The scent of sizzling barbeque, spices, and fresh baked goods wafts on the early autumn breeze. A beat created on conga drums accompanied by student-led lyrics rises above the many voices of students, faculty, and vendors. Vibrant and fresh produce accompanied by the smiles of local businesspeople greet from a variety of different booths. These are but a few of the common sights, sounds, and smells that come to campus during the Purdue Farmers Market.
The on-campus Farmers market, the youngest initiative of the Lafayette Farmers Market series, is the result of a collaboration between Purdue’s Office of University Sustainability and the Greater Lafayette Commerce commission. Designed to encourage environmentally conscious, healthy, and locally based eating within the Purdue community, the market allows small businesses in the area to connect to an audience who may not otherwise be privy to its existence or able to visit any of the off-campus venues.
This arrangement provides a noticeable benefit for both the businesses and the visitors alike. On a campus so heavily populated by chain restaurants, the food and produce provided by these local vendors is oftentimes healthier, organic or more natural, and provides support for the local economy. It offers an easy alternative to processed foods and allows the consumer to concretely know where their food is coming from and even who grew or cooked it. Furthermore, on a campus where busy students and faculty alike may sacrifice eating or skip meals for the sake of keeping their schedule, the market, which provides some foods ready to eat and meals made to order, is a convenient and appetizing way to grab a little lunch. Its location, set up in an area with heavy foot traffic, provides a level of exposure that allows the market to thrive. Perhaps most of all, however, it allows students and the on-campus community to interact and participate within the larger Lafayette and West Lafayette community.
The Purdue Farmers Market also offers a wide variety of produce, crafts, plants, and food goods that add to the diversity of the market. The produce offered varies according to what’s seasonally available and the success of the crop that month, but nevertheless offers a mixture of flavors and colors. At this point in the season, this includes apples, beans, an assortment of peppers, corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. Certain vendors offer freshly cut flowers, potted plants, and herbs. In addition to plants and produce, barbeque, freshly baked breads, jams, and jellies are also available. The businesses and vendors themselves change depending on the week but notably include a bicycle service station where students can get free “checkups” and basic repairs for their bicycles and a booth for the student-run organization Full Circle Agriculture at Purdue who operate a small-scale farm and sell their produce at the market.
If you’re interested in attending, the Purdue Farmers Market occurs every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until late October and is located near the Centennial Mall between Wetherill and Stanley Coulter Halls.