The Storrs Farmers Market is making a name for itself as an organic location for fresh food and nutrition for University of Connecticut (UConn), students and surrounding residents.
The market, which has been running since 1994, supplies the greater Mansfield area with meat, baked goods, milk products, fruits and vegetables, according to the organization’s website.
The current Market Master, Carly Olson, said the organization prides itself on selling products that are fresh and grown locally.
“Next year will be our 25th year,” Olson said. “We’ve always been very food-focused but we’ve had a few of the same customers for the last 10 to 20 years.”
Olson said the farmers are a close-knit community and contribute individually to the market while still working as a team.
“Most of our farms are no more than 15 miles away,” Olson said. “So we’re known for having the friendliest farmers around. They’ll use each other’s produce.”
Olson said she is focused on keeping the market strictly to produce, but has allowed other vendors to infiltrate and sell their products over the years. The market has vendors who sell natural soap, as well as a UConn grad who sells candles.
Olson said the hallmark of the organization is that, although she is the Market Master, many of the decisions about market proceedings are made by the farmers.
“Everyone is willing to talk about how they grow and sell their food,” Olson said. “It’s an association of farmers.”
Olson said the primary customers at the market include UConn students and families in Mansfield, Willimantic, Ashford and other surrounding towns. The market is able to reach out to students through newsletters and advertisements that run on monitors in dining halls on campus.
“UConn is a great avenue to use to reach out to the greater Mansfield area,” Olson said.
Olson, who completed her undergraduate education at UConn and received her masters in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from Green Mountain College, said her education has allowed her passion for the market to grow.
“I’ve dedicated a decade to learning about supply chains,” Olson said.
The outdoor market will continue in front of the Mansfield Town Hall every Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. until Nov. 17. At that point, the market will close operations until Dec. 1 and will then resume indoor sales at the Mansfield Public Library every other Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. the website says.
Olson said it is crucial that UConn students take advantage of what the market has to offer in order to keep students educated on the history of the university.
“Local farming is important to Mansfield and UConn because the university started as an agricultural school, and people are starting to forget that,” Olson said. “It helps keep the community grounded to its roots.”
Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.