After this year’s long winter, the University Square Farmers’ Market is up and running in time for the warmer months.
The market, which reopened this month at 36th and Walnut streets, has been a staple of Penn’s campus life since 2004, said Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger. It will be held every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until November.
Come August, there will be three new companies for students, faculty and staff to become familiar with — Amaranth Gluten-Free Bakery from Lancaster, Pa., Philadelphia-based Better Butter and The McCann’s Farm from Monroesville, N.J.
Amaranth owner Kristen Ippolito said she was drawn to the University Square market because Penn is “a good demographic and more aware of the benefits of eating gluten-free.”
Better Butter, which specializes in all-natural, low-calorie peanut butter, decided to become a permanent feature of the market after its trial run last year, Cousart said.
In addition to providing the Penn community with more healthy options, Ippolito said the partnership with the University Square market is beneficial to her company. “Penn is a very viral community,” she said, adding that word of mouth is one of the most helpful ways to gain recognition.
In the meantime, however, “we are always looking to grow the market,” Lea-Kruger said, adding that there may be other changes before the academic year resumes in September.
In addition to these new vendors, local companies like Metropolitan Bakery and John and Kira’s will return to sell baked goods, coffees and chocolates.
The presence of the farmers’ market in the middle of Penn’s campus “speaks to the University’s commitment to serving local food,” Director of Sustainability for Business Services Laurie Cousart said. Penn was one of the first universities to forge a partnership with a local market and one of the only schools to allow students to use their meal plan money at the stands.
Consequently, the market is “something that everyone looks forward to,” Cousart said, adding that many members of the Penn community have gotten to know the vendors that return each year.
Although the market operates seasonally to ensure the quality of its produce, regular vendors like Hilltop Farm from Paradise, Pa., and Beechwood Orchards from Biglerville, Pa., have noticed a lack of fresh fruits due to the uncharacteristically cold spring this year.
“It’s been a slow year for produce,” Lea-Kruger said. Fruits like strawberries, peaches and apples are some of the market’s most popular products, and business is “a bit difficult when they’re not ripe yet.”
However, with summer approaching, Cousart was optimistic that the market will be able to resume business as usual.