By Olivia Krauth & Blake Wedding–
Visitors to U of L’s Belknap campus on Thursday afternoons have been in for a surprise this summer.
If they ventured past Third Street, they would hear live music – most likely an acoustic guitar and a gentle singing voice. If they got closer, they would see, and maybe smell on certain weeks, a series of tents belonging to vendors, selling everything from kettle corn to local produce to fresh meat.
The Health Sciences Campus has had a farmer’s market since 2009, but this summer was the first try for the new Belknap Farmer’s Market.
Every Thursday since May 29 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., a variety of vendors ventured onto the Belknap campus, setting up their goods on West Brandeis Avenue by the Ville Grille. Vendors and live music are not the only things available – U of L programs focused on healthy and sustainable eating habits are also present.
“Everything in the market is grown locally,” said Darlene Sheriff, a worker at the market tasked with helping visitors navigate and learn about the market. “All of the vendors have a firm sense of community and connection. They believe the students are very open-minded and open to the ideas of trying new foods and organic ingredients.”
“We’re excited to offer this opportunity for our students, faculty, staff and neighbors,” said Mitchell Payne, U of L senior vice president for business affairs and spear-header of the new market, in a release from the university in July. “It’s a great next step in our ongoing efforts to make local, healthy food available to those in our campus community.”
The market initially missed many who were not in town for summer break, but summer students had positive words.
Sophomore Raven Koos said she would definitely go back. “All of the vendors were really nice, and it was not super crowded so I actually got to talk to one of the vendors about their tea and how I could get more.”
The tea vendor in question is Tamra Means, who runs Paradise Island Tea. For Means, farmer’s markets have been a way to get her product out into the public eye. “Louisville is very supportive in buying local, and I am really learning that,” said Means.
“They really appreciate the small businesses that are striving to feed the people.”
Means attends three other farmer’s markets each week: Mazoli’s farmer’s market on Wednesdays, New Albany farmer’s market on Saturdays and Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Market’s farmer’s market on Sundays. “Well, as long as I am not working or at church,” added Means. Her tea blends are also available in area stores like Garden Gate Fruit Market, Earth Friends Cafe and Paul’s Fruit Market. “We came up with the recipe in the spring of 2008,” said Means on the company’s start. “We kind of gave samples out, did community events through 2008 and 2009. We then kind of put it on the backburner, and just picked it up in the spring of 2013.”
Her company offers four types of tea: two sweet, two unsweet, all available in milk container-style 32 ounce containers and small sample sizes. Means proudly smiles as she teaches customers about each tea. “Our original tea is called Passion,” begins Means, pointing to the far corner of a kiddie pool filled with ice, tea and an inflatable palm tree.
She continues by explaining that the fruit and spice blend has a relative – a new blend called Passion Ginger, also a sweet tea. She also introduces two unsweet teas, one a blend of white, green and black tea, another called “Honeybush,” both of which are works in progress.
With the market running weekly until October 16, fall semester students will have the opportunity to visit vendors like Means once classes resume.
Market coordinators plan on continuing to add new vendors to the line-up – in fact, they just added one: Use Good Scents, home and personal cleaning supplies that are made with natural ingredients and are toxic-free.