Jess Rivera '22 harvests vegetables from the campus eGarden in preparation for sale at the West Side Farmers Market in the City of Rochester. (SUNY Geneseo/ Keith Walters' 11)
Every Tuesday this summer, Uniqua Jones ’22, Jess Rivera ’22 and Lauren Goulet ’22 pack garlic scapes, cucumbers, zucchini and other veggies they freshly harvest from the campus eGarden and head to the West Side Farmers Market in Rochester. There, the students join other local farmers and producers to bring produce to a diverse, urban neighborhood.
The students are learning the full cycle of farming — from planting to sale — and are part of a larger sustainability related effort to increase engagement, business and access opportunities for BIPOC community members.
The West Side Farmers Market received a $10,000 grant from the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority to help increase participation of BIPOC farmers and producers in local farmers markets, to enable them to sell retail and build relationships with BIPOC community members. The Geneseo Foundation received $3,000 of that grant to hire Rivera and Jones for SUNY Geneseo's effort. Goulet is a work-study student in the sustainability office.
The area served by the West Side market is in a food desert, in which it is difficult to buy fresh, quality food, says West Side Farmers Market organizer Bob Boyd, who is a lecturer and internship director in Geneseo’s School of Business. In addition, 20 percent of residents in that area don’t own a car, he says, so the market fills an important role for accessibility. In addition, Boyd is working with several BIPOC farmers who sell at West Side on pricing, planning and other support.
During the market season, Rivera and Jones are also asking shoppers what vegetables they would like available, so students can potentially grow them in the campus eGarden.
All of the produce is grown in the eGarden, which is on the west side of campus and run by the Office of Sustainability and student efforts.