Farmers market hosts K-State day to draw in students

Peppers grown at A&H Farm located in Manhattan are sold at the Manhattan Farmer's Market located in the parking lot of the Manhattan Town Square on Sept. 19, 2015. (File Photo by Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

The Downtown Farmer’s Market of Manhattan hosted its first K-State Day on Saturday. The first 50 K-State students to stop by the market’s information booth received a $5 token to use at the market in a bid to draw in student business.

“I realized this week was a bye week, so I thought it would be a good day to do it,” Andrea DeJesus, owner of A & H Farm and president of the local farmers market, said.

DeJesus has now set her eyes on the K-State market. She said she believes that students want access to local foods, and she, with the cooperation of the farmers market board, is doing what she can to provide it.

“I’m the one that kind of put the idea together for the K-State Day,” DeJesus said. “The board said ‘Yes, lets do it.'”

DeJesus said she recognizes that it is no easy task. The market has to compete with grocery stores and meal plans for students provided by K-State Housing and Dining. She said she is not discouraged, though.

“It’s hard to market to some of them because they live in the dorms and they don’t cook,” DeJesus said. “There is a lot of stuff there, and there are a lot of students who live on their own and want local, healthy stuff and they just don’t know about the farmers market.”

DeJesus’ efforts did not go unnoticed. Tabatha Bell, senior in chemical engineering, went to the farmers market to take advantage of the free $5 token; however, Bell did not get the token. She said she believes she did not go early enough.

Bell said she did not go solely because it was K-State student day, but also because of the availability of local produce and baked goods.

“(I went) because you know you can get that fresh local produce when you go,” Bell said. “I’m planning on going this Saturday and other Saturdays to get more of that Friendship Bread.”

Malley Sisson, Manhattan resident, retired last year from her position as a dietitian at Kramer Dining Center and spends her Saturdays selling baked goods and marmalade at the farmers market. She said she believes the market helps the local community, including college students, by keeping money local and giving people the opportunity to get to know their farmers and bakers.

Mike Reamer of Prairiewind Farms sells various goods including produce, fruit syrups and honey from bees that he raises. He said he believes that the market offers freshness and quality that students would have difficulty finding elsewhere.

“No store can compete,” Reamer said. “These tomatoes sitting right here, I picked those an hour before I came up here.”

He also said he wants to draw in the local college crowd.

“Anything we can do to work with K-State would be fantastic” Reamer said. “I’d like to see old Willie come down and walk around some Saturday.”

Cassandra Hampel, senior in business management, said she has spent the last two and a half years living in Manhattan and doing the majority of her produce shopping at grocery stores. Recently, Hampel said she has been cooking for herself more and has taken a more active interest in the quality of her fruits and vegetables.

“I had no idea there was a farmers market here,” Hampel said. “The only way I knew how to get local produce around here was to go to the West Side Market.”

Hampel said she plans to attend the farmers market in the future, even on Saturdays with no K-State student specials.

The Manhattan farmers market was established in 1979, and since then it has been providing fresh food and more to Manhattan area residents. The market usually runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from April to October at Third and Leavenworth streets.