Posted May 3, 2018
By ANDREA ILLAN
The University of Miami is well known for the quality of its education and faculty. However, the school is also attractive to students across the nation for its tropical campus, outdoor lifestyle, warm weather, and the friendly people that can be found all around the university.
One thing that adds to this culture that has been created for UM is the weekly farmers market on the Coral Gables campus.
When walking to those 8 a.m. classes on Wednesdays, the excitement around the market can be felt from the early hours of the morning, as vendors set up and hungry customers wait for the stands to open.
Happening every week of the Fall and Spring semesters, the UM farmers market livens the Foote Green and areas around the Richer Library every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Most students and members of the university enjoy the weekly goods that are brought to campus, but rarely anyone knows the origins of the UM farmers market.
Jason Kaplan, director of Communications for the Student Government at UM, stated that the market was brought to campus by the SG president of the 2010-11 academic year, Christina Farmer.
“The idea was originally one of her campaign’s platform initiatives and was created as a trial before it began to grow, turning [it] into the farmers market you are familiar with today,” he said.
Additionally, he stated that the Benefits Office, which is under the Human Resources Department at UM, is the one that directs the market today. The current manager is a former UM student, Sherri Virok.
As manager of the market, Virok hired a company named The Market Company to manage the week-to-week activities of the market. It is, then, this organization that puts the market together and contacts the independent vendors. Some of the most popular are Açai Blendz, Poke Smash, The Argentinean Grill Stop, Incredible Kettle Corn, and the Tropical Fruit Stand.
The Market Company is not only commercially known for its involvement with the University of Miami.
Popular farmers markets of South Florida, such as Lincoln Road, Dadeland Mall and Town Center Boca Raton, are all put together by this company.
Since its creation in 2010, the UM farmers market has been growing in popularity among the members of the University. Every Wednesday, professors and staff can be found eating a variety of foods bought at the market.
Although these people are usually found shopping at the market, it is not a popular an activity for older people as it is for students. For example, School of Communication Professor Michel Dupagne said he has never been to the market, even after working at the university of 24 years.
Its success truly comes from the revenue created by student spending at the market.
On the days that the market is on campus, social media platforms – such as Snapchat and Instagram – are filled with pictures of students holding their meals, tagged with hashtags such as #umfarmersmarket and #marketwednesdays. The high number of pictures under these tags speaks to the popularity of the market among UM students.
First year student, Alec Musinsky, is eager about market Wednesdays and said he has tried many of the different foods offered. His two favorite vendors so far have been the Mexican food stand and the Chinese food stand.
Another student, Sylvia Forsyth, agrees with Musinsky and said she “loves how they bring in all the local vendors and a huge variety of types of food.”
Graduating senior Sarah Sharfi has been around the market all four years of her UM experience. She said with a sad expression on her face, “I am going to miss this when I graduate next month.”
The farmers market’s presence on campus goes beyond those six hours every Wednesday. Some of the vendors can be found on campus at other times.
Açai Blendz and Poke Smash are especially involved with Greek life and come to campus on days additional to market Wednesdays. In these instances, they sell their açai and poke bowls and return a portion of the proceeds to the philanthropies that the different Greek organizations are involved with.
Eight years into this beloved UM tradition, the farmers market on campus has reached great success and has the potential to keep getting more and more successful as time progresses.