Students get farm-fresh food
If you want to eat organic, buy jewelry or don’t feel like driving to Publix, there’s a way to eat fresh produce on campus: the Florida Gulf Coast University Farmers Market.
Uzair Iqbal, the Student Government Director of Sustainability, adopted the farmers market this year and made it his goal to expand the project. The market used to be staged once a month near the aquatics center, but Iqbal increased it to twice a week and changed the location to the library lawn.
“The library lawn provides a better location because the students and faculty are able to access it between class times and office hours and are able to visually see it better, too,” Iqbal said. “The previous location, outside a few of the students, nobody really knew it was there. Whether they have transportation or not, it provides the accessibility for students who can’t make it to places like Gulf Coast Town Center.”
Iqbal also said that international students have given him great feedback.
“It provides a glimpse for them of what the small businesses in Southwest Florida are,” Iqbal said. “We’re focusing on small businesses in Southwest Florida specifically to help support them as well as show students that there are other resources for you other than these giant corporations. By coming to the FGCU Farmers Market, you’re supporting the Southwest Florida region, and all of the money will go back into the pockets of the residents here.”
The farmers market offers more than just fresh produce from Eldridge’s Produce for students. There are also vendors selling clothes, tie-dye t-shirts, jewelry, soaps and essential oils.
To accompany the farmers market, Iqbal showed a viewing of the documentary “Food Chains” Tuesday night. The film by Eva Longoria is about the coalition workers in Immokalee. It focuses on the tomato pickers in Immokalee and how much they get paid, labor exploitations, abuse and other issues that the coalition workers and tomato pickers face.
“One of the key points in the movie is that the workers in the tomato fields get paid … roughly $40 a day for them to work eight to 12 hours per day.”
Iqbal said that the film was eye opening for him.
“The 15,000 students that we have here should know about the issues that we have here,” Iqbal said. “Not many students know where Immokalee is or the issues going on in Immokalee. When I came here two years ago I didn’t know about it. It shows you that there are these issues going on that you would think would only be going on in third world countries, but they’re actually going on in FGCU’s backyard.”
The next farmers markets on campus are March 10, March 24, April 4 and April 24. They will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the library lawn. To receive a free reusable bag, like the FGCU Farmers Market Facebook page while you are at the event.