When sophomore Ashley Adams wanted to bring fresh, local produce to campus, she ended up starting the Clemson Farm Fresh Market with the help of staff in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS).
Adams, an English major, came up with the idea for the market during her first semester at Clemson. She was an agricultural education major at the time and had the opportunity to shadow S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers for a day. On that particular day, she attended a meeting for the S.C. Farmers Market, and that's when she came up with the idea to start something similar at Clemson University.
"When I expressed my interest in starting the market," says Adams, "the people in Columbia put me in touch with Paula Beecher and Katie Black - who were very excited and enthusiastic about meeting a student who wanted to take something like this on."
Beecher and Black, both CAFLS recruitment coordinators, assisted with procuring a $10,000 grant from the S.C. Department of Agriculture to start and manage the market. They then hired graduate student Brooklynn Wynveen to manage relations between the farmers and the University.
"Ashley and Brooklynn have not only taken this on as an extra-curricular activity or a job, it's been a passion for them," says Black. "This is an idea we've talked about in our office for a while, but it takes
commitment. When that commitment comes from a student, it's really amazing."
"I'm very excited about the market," says Wynveen. "It's an opportunity to get involved and gain experience. Plus, markets like this are gaining in popularity, and I can take this experience with me almost everywhere I go. We've been able to build networks with people in the community instead of just surrounding ourselves with people from campus. It's a great skill to have."
Black says, "We try to make sure our vendors are artisans who use local products and ingredients. We want it to support South Carolina as well as the Southeastern region."
A total of seven markets occurred during fall and spring semesters in Johnstone Meadows - the grassy area behind the University Union, at the corner of Klugh Avenue and Fort Hill Street - with much success. The grant will run out in June, but the group hopes to attract financial support from campus organizations. "The future of the market depends on the response and how well we can fund the operations once the grant funds are no longer available," says Wynveen. "We have student volunteers who help out on market days, and the Interfraternity Council has provided the vendor tents, setting them up beforehand."
Black adds, "We try to keep the cost as minimal as possible for the vendors so we can compete with other markets. It does cost money to keep the market running, and we really hope we'll find the support."