The Mac Farmstand opened for the 2016 season in June and starting this year, there is more than just food available.

The student-run farmers’ market, open Wednesdays and Thursdays in the student centre from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., is expanding its service offerings.

“We are this place where people come and buy produce, but a lot of people don’t know how to cook, or a lot of people don’t know what to do with swiss chard or things like that,” said Kaitlyn Zarcone-Beam, Director of Farmstand.

The service is aiming to help students learn what they can make with the food Farmstand sells. To accomplish this, Farmstand is taking a new approach.

Throughout their 2016 operation, Farmstand has created recipe videos in the “Tasty” style made popular by the Facebook page with over 62 million likes. All of the ingredients shown in the videos can be purchased through Farmstand and are locally farmed products.

There has always been an educational component to Farmstand but the organization is more focused on teaching than ever.

“We’ve always had a little bit of advocacy but this year, we’ve really tried to push it. We really want Farmstand to be an educational hub as well. Because it is an MSU service, we don’t want to just be a stand, we don’t want it literally to just be a store,” said Zarcone-Beam.

The service added an Education & Advocacy Coordinator this year to gather information for Farmstand to share when people go to buy products.

Zarcone-Beam explains that the move makes sense because local food is a growing trend as the student population becomes more environmentally conscious.

Local farms that supply to the Mac market include Flamborough, Copetown and Waterford.

Exact details were not immediately available, but the stand moved more food last year than seasons prior and even added debit and credit machines to help meet student demands.

Part of that education stretches to the conversation around local produce and local-organic produce.

In recent years, there has been some negative feedback from customers, questioning why some produce was organic and others were not.

“The difference is one comes from a certified organic farm and the others don’t. But a lot of local farmers can’t afford the organic certification. Those are the types of conversations we have with people,” said Zarcone-Beam.

However, there is more positivity this year. Zarcone-Beam says that people are excited to have Farmstand back on campus.

The seasonal fruits are the top-selling products right now. Strawberries were the main attraction in June and early July, but peaches and concord grades are expected to be popular in July. More recipe videos will be released throughout the summer on their Facebook page. Farmstand will be open throughout the summer until the end of October.

Thanksgiving dinner is predictable. You’ve got your roasted turkey, tin can-shaped cranberry sauce, and squishy JELLO-like pumpkin pie. It’s all very delicious, but a change can be too.

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Mac Farm Stand offers a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that can easily be incorporated into your standard Thanksgiving meal to jazz it up and inject new flavours. Here are two easy recipes that can be thrown together with the help of Farm Stand ingredients.

Golden Delicious Baked Apples

A great dessert on its own, or served alongside a healthy sliver of pumpkin pie

Ingredients:

-       4 large apples (Farm Stand)

-       ¼ cup brown sugar

-       1 tbsp. cinnamon

-       ¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)

-       1 tbsp. butter

-       ¾ cup boiling water

-       Honey (Farm Stand)

Yield: 4 servings

 

Instructions:

1)   Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. While your oven is heating up, core your apples, making sure you remove all seeds. Leave about 2.5 cm of apple at the bottom of the fruit, and gauge the cored centres to be around 3 cm in diameter.

2)   In a bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Place your apples in a baking pan and stuff each fruit with this newly created mixture. Top each apple core off with a pat of butter.

3)   Add the boiling water to the bottom of the pan and bake for around 30-40 minutes, or until apples are tender (read: not mushy, that’s dutty). Remove your apples from the oven and baste with the juices from the bottom of the pan. Drizzle a small amount of honey over each apple.

 

Farm Fresh Raspberry Sauce

A tasty alternative to pre-packaged cranberry sauce.

 

Ingredients:

-       ¼ of an onion, finely chopped (Farm Stand)

-       60 mL red wine

-       1 chicken bouillon cube or small chicken stock pot

-       ½ cup water

-       30 mL honey (Farm Stand)

-       5 mL corn flour mixed with water

-       45 mL raspberries, mashed or gently pureed (Farm Stand)

 

Yield: 4 servings

 

Instructions:

1)   Sautee onions in a pan on medium heat until tender. Add red wine and allow to cook for a minute or two.

2)   Mix in chicken stock, water and honey.

3)   Let simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in flour paste and raspberries. Let simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

As students get settled in Hamilton for the fall semester, the harvest season is ramping up at local farmers’ markets across the city. Farmers’ markets have sprouted up in communities in the area. The Downtown Hamilton, Locke Street and Dundas Farmers’ Markets are closest to campus, and the MSU Farmstand is on campus.

The influence of popular works such as The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating and The Omnivore’s Dilemmahave renewed interest in eating locally. Farmers’ markets have a rich history of promoting local food movements. The Downtown Hamilton Farmers’ Market was originally opened in 1837 and continues to enrich the community. Manager Donna Lee McDonald noted that students in particular have been a major force in ensuring the availability of local food.

The influence of popular works such as The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating and The Omnivore’s Dilemmahave renewed interest in eating locally. Farmers’ markets have a rich history of promoting local food movements. The Downtown Hamilton Farmers’ Market was originally opened in 1837 and continues to enrich the community. Manager Donna Lee McDonald noted that students in particular have been a major force in ensuring the availability of local food.

"Youth who are seeking regional local produce and who want to support small shop culture and independent business people are bringing a resurgence to markets.  This is clearly demonstrated by the number of pop up seasonal markets that are in this area and in any urban area in the country,” she said.

The MSU Farmstand was formed in Summer 2008, during Mary Koziol’s term as MSU President, as a result of an OPIRG working group. The Farmstand, in partnership with Hospitality Services and the Office of Sustainability, aims to provide local produce to students and staff during the summer and into the fall.

Alvand Mohtashami, Director of the Farmstand, noted that farmers’ markets strive to create an inclusive and open atmosphere for their customers.

He said, “The right atmosphere is fun for a customer to explore and learn about farming and local food. The [students] come back with something they feel they can connect to rather than the grocery store experience which is a bit more mechanical.”

McMaster has been part of a provincial campus trend, which has seen students ask for more local food options. Farmers’ markets or market stands now operate at Queens, Waterloo, UofT Scarborough, Guelph, Ryerson, Brock and McMaster. Mohtashami suggested that educating students about the positive environmental, economic and health implications of buying local produce is paramount to farmers’ markets broadening their scope and targeting young people.

Lisa Anderson, manager of the Dundas Farmers’ Market, reiterated how students and youth have embraced the movement.

Specific initiatives such as the Hamilton Food Charter and programs run by Environment Hamilton seek to leverage community input into food security and food systems issues.

At the Farmstand, students can be educated about local food systems, meet with farmers and learn more about the benefits of local produce. In upcoming weeks, the Farmstand will be bringing new products from the Earth to Table Bread Bar and launching local food workshops and a farmers’ market tour, in addition to running their regular market operations. The Farmstand will wrap up its operations on October 31 with a Harvest Festival that will feature art, music and games.

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