By: Molly O’Donnell
Miami students walking through Armstrong Student Center on Friday afternoons may notice a student group table that stands out from the others. Unlike student groups passing out free candy or cookies, these students are challenging the norm by selling vegetables.
Kyle Chance, a graduate student studying political science, currently directs the student-run Miami Farm Market. Chance graduated from Miami in May with a bachelor’s degree in political science and served as a senator on Associated Student Government.
Student Body President Maggie Callaghan appointed Chance as the director of Cultivation and Market Development in September. The market began last year within student senate’s Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee as an idea to help Miami University’s farm sell more produce.
“I was talking to people in student government about how I didn’t like how much produce was going to waste,” said Chance. “Luke Elfreich [Student Body Vice President] had an idea to start a farmer’s market and bring this right to students.”
Chance and Elfreich brought the idea to Peggy Shaffer, Co-Director of Miami’s Institute for Food, who agreed to help them by giving them vegetables without payment upfront. Chance is currently running a pilot program to gauge students’ interest in an on-campus farmer’s market while beginning to plan for future expansion to a permanent location.
“Right now, we are working on refining our business plan,” said Chance. “We drafted a rough version of it last year, but we need to totally revamp that. Next semester we would bring it to the administration and say we have this initiative, we’ve been working on it for a year so far, we have actual results, and we would love to have a location on campus where we can make a home next year.”
Chance tracks which vegetables in the market’s rotating inventory of produce are most popular. Small bags of mixed greens and bell peppers have been the most popular items thus far. Students can buy produce with cash or credit cards.
The pilot program has encountered a few challenges in the few weeks it has been operating. One obstacle has been that the farm stand cannot currently accept MUlaa due to technical issues. Another obstacle is that selling is currently limited to Fridays because the Farm picks produce on Thursdays. The weather has also prevented the stand from moving to locations outside of Armstrong.
Despite the obstacles, Chance said during a presentation to student senate that the farm market had sold over 300 items and brought in nearly $400 in three weeks of operation. Overall, Chance feels the farm market has been a success.
“Of the three weeks we’ve been working so far, we sold out several times on various items,” said Chance. “We have a lot of interest in the farm. A lot of people are learning about us and learning about the Institute for Food. Not only have we sold a lot of goods, but we’ve generated a lot of interest and talk among students.”