While Wells’ location on the shores of Cayuga Lake is ideal for students seeking an education away from the distraction of urban life, the Finger Lakes’ natural setting is also known for numerous nearby vegetable and dairy farms, orchards, vineyards, and gardeners. “Aurora has a number of restaurants and ways to purchase prepared foods,” said Marian Brown, Wells’ director for the Center for Sustainability and the Environment, “but the village doesn’t offer easy access to many locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables for most of the year.” In order to better connect the campus and surrounding community with these local foods, Marian recently helped secure a grant to fund a sustainable farmers market for the village of Aurora.
The market will be located near the Wells Boat House—a convenient walking distance from residence halls—and will provide students with access to delicious, locally grown produce at least once a week. Michelle Landers, Wells’ Coordinator of Corporation and Foundation Relations, and Bonnie Bennett, the mayor of Aurora, were instrumental in supporting the effort. The funding for this grant was awarded by the Cayuga Health Association Fund, a component of the Cayuga Community Fund, which is an affiliate fund of the Central New York Community Foundation.
The village farmers market, projected to be running by April of 2015, will not only make fresh produce more easily available, but presents multiple opportunities for Wells’ students to become involved in the village community, which enthusiastically backed the idea, in addition to supporting the business of local farmers.
Internships will be offered through the market as well. These experiences could place Wells students in roles responsible for aiding the market manager in recruiting possible vendors, configuring a promotion plan for the market, and also supervising on market days. Student organizations will also be encouraged to engage in the market as well, possibly selling their own goods for fundraising purposes. The setting of the farmers market would provide an educational center for both science and business students interested in sustainability, farming, and the economics of agriculture.
Brown envisions the market becoming a social hub for the Wells and Aurora communities to interact and meld. She hopes that students will come together with the surrounding community to create a sustainable market where local businesses can be employed. For Marian, there exist endless possibilities for both students and villagers to become involved in the market and to create a continuous resource from which both can benefit: readily available, freshly delivered, and locally grown produce.