Commentary  Farmers’ Market offers organic twist on student-admin relations

Hyde Park

Flashback to Wednesday, August 27, 5:30 p.m. A cloud of drunken froshies storm the SSMU parking lot, where farmers are packing up their stands on what was the third day of the Farmers’ Market at McGill. Amid the various lullabies that saturate the air, a distant call pierces through: “Fuck vegetables, we want beer!” But froshies, we ask, why must there be a dichotomy between butternut squash and beer?

One of the goals of this Farmers’ Market was to balance McGill’s work-hard, play-hard tradition with a greater sense of community, and environmental and social sustainability. During the last week of August, five farmers and two student groups joined us in making the event a reality.

The Market provided students, employees, and neighbourhood residents with the opportunity to buy fresh, organic, local food on McGill campus, directly from the farmers who produced it. In addition to the farmers, the presence of student groups gave the event an educational twist, providing market-goers with information on sustainable, local, and urban agriculture.

Now, a couple weeks into the Fall term, the Reclaim Your Campus campaign is underway, and students are critiquing the McGill administration’s relationship with its students and staff. Yet the Farmers’ Market is an example of a successful collaboration between students and members of the McGill administration.

Both in its process and in its implementation, the Farmers’ Market has sought to create a space for community building here on campus. Prompted by discussion at last year’s Rethink conference—an annual sustainability forum—the Market was, from its inception, a participatory project. With funds from the Green Fee, SSMU funded us to coordinate the event, while Food and Dining Services covered the costs of marketing, parking, and clean-up.

Juggling logistics of the event would have been significantly more difficult without the expertise of the administrators involved. While the process of obtaining various approvals for holding the Market on campus was often difficult, having the administrators as part of our team has been instrumental in negotiating these challenges.

Finally, while it is true that the Market is not as controversial as some other student initiatives on campus, it is important that we recognize the successes that can emerge from joint efforts between students and the administration. We do see a need to reclaim our campus and demand that students come first at McGill, but we should also not ignore those administrators that do care and want to work with us to accomplish common goals.

Our farmers will be selling organic produce including vegetables, garlic products, fruit, eggs, chicken, jams, breads, and baked goods. Also, Greening McGill, Campus Crops, Santropol roulant, and Caravane migrante will be tabling throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring your own Tupperware.

Lili Eskinazi and Cynthia Beaudry are the Farmers’ Market coordinators, look for details on page 9.