Featuring local artisans, food producers, and student artists
By Stephanie Simko
Every Wednesday in the Study from 10 am until 4 pm, tables laden with handcrafted goods, local foods and teas are on display for the student body to peruse and purchase. A large sign board, made from recycled materials and hand painted by a local high school artist, is propped against the tables. This is the Campus Market – a welcoming space that promotes sustainability and community craftsmanship.
“One of the goals is to give students access to healthy and regional food. You know what you are getting and where it is coming from,” said Ledah McKellar, Sustainable Foods Co-ordinator, about the market.
After seeing similar efforts on other university campuses, current Sustainability Commissioner Ian Kaufman began holding the market on a sporadic schedule last year in the Agora. Having worked with local food producers through the True North Community Co-Operative, Kaufman was able to forge a relationship and gain a partner in supporting the market.
McKellar has since taken over coordinating, promoting and contacting vendors for the weekly market. “Often times you can come and meet the people responsible for providing the goods. We aim to promote local business and economy, as well as create personal links within the campus and the community at large.”
The True North Community Co-op, which sells preserves, jams, sauces, and local teas from the Boreal Forest, sets up weekly at the market.
The local business Steeper’s Tea has also climbed on board offering a unique variety of traditional and fusion teas.
Faye Adamson, an ambitious student on campus who has spearheaded her own business called TBay Imports, has recently joined the market. She displays and sells worldly and recycled clothing and specialty items from India, Thailand, Ecuador, and other countries.
A professor at Lakehead, Julie Rosenthal also sells artisanal crafts from Kyrgyzstan; the profits of which are almost entirely returned to the artisans.
Two other Lakehead-students-by-day, innovative-artists-by-night, are also sharing their wares at the market. Dayna Slingerland crafts hand-felted décor, and designs and personalises felted dolls. She’ll create anything from Lady Gaga to your pet dog! Angela Benedict creates beautiful pine needle and birch bark baskets as well as paintings.
Refurbished bicycles are also featured by Community Spokes Bike Shop, whose volunteers operate out of the Lakehead Bike Shed.
Of all the proceeds raised at the market, five to ten percent go towards supporting the LUSU Food Bank. A large part of the profit goes back to the artists and purveyors themselves.
McKellar encourages students to try and embrace a diverse understanding of what sustainability can be without stretching the concept too much.
“When it comes to preparing foods, emphasising going local can undermine the cultural complexity of our country,” explained McKellar. “There are some foods you can’t get locally for dishes that may be culturally significant. But that doesn’t mean that these choices are unsustainable. Cultural richness and diversity is part of sustainability as well.”
In an effort to promote skill-building, McKellar is holding a five-part dinner series dubbed “Apocalypse Dinner Night,” which will include workshops on fermentation, vermicomposting, cooking West Indian food and working with edible and medicinal herbs.
In the future, McKellar hopes to expand the market with farmer’s market status: “We would love to have eggs, bread and other produce available for students.”
Currently, the GREENS project, an effort spearheaded by Adrian Arts at the LUSU Food Bank, has introduced campus-grown herbs to the market and soon hopes to include lettuce and hot house tomatoes.
Beginning next month, the market will also include a book and clothing swap in collaboration with the Gender Issues Centre. With plans to hold this the first Wednesday of every month, students are encouraged to bring gently used clothing and leisure reading books to trade and barter.
Interested vendors can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the group’s Facebook page for more details.