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Ole Miss Market Days brings fresh food to campus this fall

Fresh produce and other local goods will be available for purchase during Ole Miss Market Days, a series of events scheduled throughout the fall semester at the University of Mississippi.

The markets, set for Thursday, Sept. 8 and Oct. 6, will take place from noon to 3:30 p.m. on the Student Union plaza.

Funded by the UM Green Fund, the project was proposed by senior civil engineering student Sarah O’Brien.

“Farmers’ markets are such a great way for people to buy locally grown food,” O’Brien said. “There are so many benefits from eating local. It’s a chance for the Ole Miss community to get a unique personal interaction with the farmers that grow their food.”

Ole Miss Market Days will feature local farmers selling a variety of produce, as well as vendors offering local honey, fresh bread and Gulf seafood. The October market coincides with the university’s annual Food Day Festival.

The UM Green Fund committee selected the project because of its positive potential contribution to campus sustainability.

“As a member of the Green Fund committee, I’ve been asked several times about a campus farmers’ market by my peers who have trouble making it to the community markets,” said Grace Sullivan, a senior social work major from Madison who served on the Green Fund last year as the Associated Student Body sustainability representative.

“Since we have started following up with this proposal, it has been exciting to answer my peers with an enthusiastic, ‘Yes, it’s in the works!’”

In O’Brien’s Green Fund proposal, she noted an environmental, health and economic case for supporting farmers’ markets. The distribution and transportation of conventionally grown food is responsible for five to 17 times more carbon dioxide emissions than local or regionally produced food, according to the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems.

Farmers’ markets have been proven to contribute positively to the economy, O’Brien said, citing a 2009 survey conducted by the Mississippi State University Department of Agricultural Economics and the National Agricultural Marketing Association. The national survey indicated that communities that hosted farmers’ markets saw a 70 percent increase in sales, a 66 percent increase in employment and a 29 percent increase in wages.

Ole Miss Market Days are open to all members of the Oxford and UM community. For more information, visit http://green.olemiss.edu/olemissmarketdays/.