Tom Hubric woke up at 4:45 a.m. yesterday and grabbed a cup of coffee, just 15 minutes before an alarm woke up his 1,200 birds. He had just a few hours to harvest eggs, travel to this university and set up his stand outside Cole Field House.
Hubric and Ned Dykes, his Twin Post Farm business partner, occupied one of seven tents at the first first weekly Farmers Market at Maryland, held yesterday from noon to 4 p.m. More than 1,000 people were drawn to the stands, which included fruits, vegetables, bread and meat. The Wellness Coalition and the Office of Sustainability have been working to bring the market to the campus for the past two years, since organizers held a successful trial in April 2010 called “Testudo’s Market.”
“Our intentions have always been to establish a regular, weekly farmers market on campus that would kind of become a part of the culture of the university,” said Wellness Coalition spokeswoman Kate Maloney.
Vendors said they were pleased with the turnout – most tents sold out between 2 and 3 p.m. – and Hubric and Dykes sold nearly 50 dozen eggs in one hour.
“This is very, very good for a Wednesday market because typically for farmers market culture, Saturday is the big day, sometimes Sunday,” said Shawn Eubank, farm manager at McCleaf’s Orchard in Pennsylvania.
Maloney said one of the biggest obstacles to establishing the permanent market was persuading vendors it would be worth their time to commit to another venue.
“The best thing people can do to support this effort is to show up every week and shop,” she said.
In addition to local vendors, several hailed from Virginia and one was from Pennsylvania. Eubank’s tent sold a variety of produce, including Chinese cabbage, rhubarb, strawberries and fennel. A gourmet cheese vendor, Picnic Gourmet Spreads, offered free samples of Gorgonzola chive, Moroccan cilantro and red pepper feta.
Senior family science major Chemia Hughes said she was excited about the freshness and variety offered at the market.
“I normally can’t afford fresh food, so this is a welcome change,” Hughes said. “I’m tired of ramen.”
Freshman elementary education major Ali Harrington bought a ham and cheese croissant from Bonaparte Breads and apples from McCleaf’s Orchard which supplies French breads, desserts and pastries.
“At home I go [to farmers markets] all the time with my mom,” she said. “The only bummer is that I don’t have a kitchen to cook a lot of the other stuff in it. If I was in an apartment, this [market] would be ideal.”
In addition to acoustic guitarists, students were entertained by a cooking demonstration from Dining Services Executive Chef John Gray. A member of the department will present a new meal to market-goers every other week.
“This [location] was a strategic decision, because it was important for us to have the market be really accessible and really central to everything that’s happening here,” Maloney said.
The market, which is funded by the Division of Student Affairs, will be open every Wednesday from May 2 to Nov. 14, except July 4.
Maloney said the university relied mainly on volunteers to limit operating costs to parking, security and marketing. Leftover food from each week will be donated to the Food Recovery Network.
“It’s a fun way to end the year; it’s cool that we get to come here and now it’ll be every Wednesday, so we’ll definitely be coming back,” Harrington said.