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‘Who doesn’t like free food?’ 2nd annual Wildcat Market engages campus community through healthy eating

Patti Doud
Wildcat Market attendees pick out produce at the South Lawn on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Photo by Patti Doud.

The Wildcat Market, a student-led farmers market, returned to campus to provide students with a wide variety of organic and locally grown produce.

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, the Student Government Organization and the College of Agriculture’s Community Supported Agriculture program, collaborated with the Student Activities Board to host the market for the second year in a row. 

According to SAB Co-Director of Tradition Lauren Salladino, 736 students lined up on South Lawn Plaza to socialize and shop for organic produce such as carrots, garlic and watermelon. 

Students were provided with wristbands and a first come, first serve tote bag for their goods as they entered the market, along with a $12 voucher to spend on whatever produce they liked. 

“We put it on last year and it was a great success, so we were very excited to have it again, and we just know that the student body, they love this event. So we wanted to make sure to do it again,” Salladino said. 

The overall goal of the Wildcat Market, according to Salladino, was to provide free fruits and vegetables and promote healthy eating to students through locally grown organic produce which is not always an option for students. 

“I just want to eat healthier,” said Delaney Wolfe, a freshman communications major. “And who doesn’t like free food?”

A change made this year by the organizations was altering the location to provide easier access to the event. 

“We moved it from the Motor Pool closer to K-Lot. The main reason was to make it more accessible to students, it’s a more central location on campus,” said Charles Petty, a sophomore and SAB director of pop culture. “Plus, the larger area allows for less congestion, there’s still a lot of congestion, but it allows students to get through faster.” 

The market gave students the opportunity to learn where their food comes from while bringing the campus community together. 

“Through bringing different communities together it will attract different people on campus so everyone can come and enjoy the event,” Princess Agbozo, SAB vice president of internal affairs, said. 

During the checkout process, students were provided recipe cards, according to CSA Manager Kristi Durbin. 

The purpose of the cards was to help spark creativity with the newly purchased produce and teach new ways to prepare the food, Durbin said. 

For some students living in dorms, the recipe cards provided many options for either eating food fresh or cooking it in a microwave. 

“That’s always a challenge of helping them to learn about new things they may not have normally tried, maybe not have normally eaten and maybe not really a part of their diet,” Durbin said. “So we bring lots of different vegetables, we grow over 40 different types of things and we have at least 20 different vegetables represented here today. Helping students to understand more about those vegetables is great, so hopefully events like these make it more accessible to them.” 

Students from all over campus congregated on South Lawn, sharing their newly purchased produce and ideas they had for recipes. Despite the warmer temperatures, a few fall items were available, such as flowers and pumpkins, for students to take home. 

“The farmers market was such a nice surprise when I was walking back to my dorm. I was drawn to it because everyone looked so excited and were carrying super cute tote bags handed out,” said Callie Slider, a sophomore kinesiology major. “I also loved the idea of fresh produce available on campus because it’s hard to come by sometimes as a college student.” 

With a wide variety of produce provided by CSA, the event was able to market to more students, giving them more vegetables to pick and choose from.

“Last year we only expected about 200 people, but 600 showed up. So we upped the expected attendance for around 700 people this year,” Siena Pilati, SGA director of campus services, said. “And so far, I think we are definitely on track to hit that. So it’s been a great day so far.” 

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  • M

    Molly DavisSep 29, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    Congratulations on the second year of Wildcat Market! A great collaboration between Student Government and the UK CSA and their hardworking team to benefit students.

  • C

    Carrie CollinsSep 23, 2023 at 6:28 am

    Wonderful to see a Farmers Market on a college campus! Bravo!