The KSU Farmers Market offers local businesses the chance to showcase their healthy alternatives to everyday foods and products each Wednesday on the Campus Green.
Walking down the aisle of tents on a Wednesday afternoon, students can see hot tamales on one side and fresh apples on the other. The KSU Farmers Market offers sweets and pastries, cold packs made with cherry pits, apples of all varieties, soaps for a good cause, peanut brittle, honey, iced coffee and candles.
All goods and products sold at the Farmers Market are handmade or homemade and most are produced without many of the added hormones and chemicals found in grocery store items.
“A farmers market fosters sustainability in several ways,” said R.C. Paul, Biology professor and director of sustainability at KSU. “The goods are locally grown and produced and that cuts down on travel distance, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Paul said KSU students have been involved in the creation and operation of the KSU Farmers Market since it began in 2012.
“A class project group outlined the original concept model in Spring semester, 2012,” Paul said, adding that the market went into operation later that year under the auspices of the KSU Culinary Department.
“I love it because I come here to get my apples,” said Culinary student and market patron Chelseigh Millar. “I also love that it’s centered [on] some gluten- free stuff. They’re really talking to their audience.”
One participating business is Tad’s Tasty Treats, owned by local entrepreneur Tad Spencer, who started his catering business after 19 years in financial services.
“I decided I wanted to do something I had a passion for,” Spencer said, adding that the KSU Farmers Market is the only retail his business takes part in. “I don’t participate with any other farmers markets. This is very close to my kitchen. I have been developing a relationship with the school in general so working with the students has been great. In fact, a couple students have come to my kitchen to help out.”
Another market frequenter is Kawonza Jones-Wilson, a faculty member for Marketing and Recruitment in the Bagwell College of Education. “I am thoroughly excited about the KSU Farmers Market,” Jones- Wilson said. “I am a weekly patron and Tad’s Tasty Treats just so happens to be one of my favorites.”
Jones-Wilson is one example of the developing relationships between local business owners and KSU students and faculty who attend the market.
“The fact that he sends out a weekly email reminder telling us what his free item is and what the pies and the selections are going to be for the upcoming week is even better,” Jones-Wilson added.
Some participants collect proceeds to benefit specific causes. The Hope Soap Project sends a portion of its profits to organizations that help fight human sex trafficking.
“The soaps are all natural and organic. The base is coconut oil, sunflower oil, palm and olive oil,” said Nikki Lindberg.
Lindberg and her husband Courtney are the owners and founders of the Hope Soap Project. “We also wrapped the bars with seed paper so they can be planted to grow wildflowers so there’s no waste. It’s just an all-around awesome product,” she said.
Courtney Lindberg said he is very excited about being a part of the KSU Farmers Market. . “Students have shown to be like our No. 1 demographic, and the response we’ve gotten here is tremendous.”
He attributes the success to the age group and the environment on campus.
“Whenever there’s an association for higher learning and wanting to understand things like the world around us, it just goes to make something like a farmers market almost a logical conclusion,” he added.
Michael Frankel, senior lecturer for the Math and Statistics department, also supports the KSU Farmers Market. “I think it’s an exceptional opportunity for local businesses to show their wares,” Frankel said, “and make it easy for the Kennesaw students to learn about some local businesses in the area they may not be aware of without it.”
The KSU Farmers Market is open every Wednesday from noon until 4 p.m. through mid-November and will reopen in the spring.
Melissa McMahon, marketing manager for Culinary and Hospitality Services, discussed plans to expand operation into the summer months.