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The farmer's market at 36th and Walnut streets is getting bigger and better - and it's all natural, of course.

On May 23, the market will add two vendors to its collection: Metropolitan Bakery and Pumpkin Ridge Farms.

These vendors will provide baked goods and cut flowers, respectively, according to Andrew Zitcer. Zitcer, the cultural assets manager at Facilities and Real Estate Services, spearheaded the expansion.

The expansion will also include a student-run information table where shoppers will be able to ask nutritional and health-related questions.

Zitcer said a number of groups will provide resources for this table, including the Office of Health Education, Student Health, the Penn Bookstore, White Dog Cafe, Penn Dining Services and the student organization FarmEcology, which works to educate students about the importance of eating locally grown food.

The expansion was inspired by the growing popularity of the market after it moved in front of the Penn Bookstore from its original location on 33rd and South streets in 2005.

The market is now "one of the most popular farmer's markets on a per farmer basis in all of Philly," Zitcer noted.

Zitcer also highlighted the importance of the University's effort to participate in the local economy and environment.

"I really believe we have an obligation to be a leader in environmental sustainability by supporting local food markets," he said.

Aiding Penn in this effort is Farm to City, "a Philadelphia-based program whose goal is to unite communities, families and farmers year-round through good locally grown food," according to its Web site.

The organization has helped the University find farmers for the market.

Bob Pierson, the program's director, applauded the University for using its "urban nutrition initiative as a forum for the University's community to focus on health and wellbeing."

And while the University does not financially support the market directly, it does give the market free space in front of the bookstore and uses its resources to publicize the market.

With this expansion on the horizon, the market's organizers are already looking ahead toward additional potential changes.

The market is trying to get a vendor that sells bison meat, Pierson said.

In addition, according to Penn Dining Director of Food Services Laurie Cousart, her organization is currently in discussion with Person and Zitcer about the possibility of opening a second market on campus.

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