By Zachary Lathouris
For 21 years, the Arcata Farmers Market has been a staple of the Humboldt State University community. This weekly event is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is Humboldt County’s largest and oldest farmers market and is hub for community and social events.
Ivy Matheny, outreach and operations coordinator for the North Coast Growers Association, said that she thinks the market is integral to the local community.
“Once you start to get to know your farmers and trying new fruits and vegetables you really get hooked. Eating healthy is addictive and affordable,” Matheny said. After tuition, students in college say the meal plan is one of the most expensive things students will spend their money on. Humboldt State University offers four different meals plans based upon the eating habits of students.
One meal plan known as the mini-plan is only offered to students who either live in Creekview or College Creek apartments. For the academic year the mini-meal plan costs $1,900 and gives students 167,000 J-points for the year. This allows students who live on the on campus apartments to save money. There is however, a catch. Campus apartment residents have a full kitchen and are expected to cook for themselves. The amount of J-points that the mini-plan provides will not get students thought the semester. That’s where the Farmers Market can help.
Carson Guzowski, a 20-year-old journalism major, said she’s a frugal shopper.
“I’m always shopping around to find the best price on things like produce,” Guzowski said. “I have very little disposable income so knowing where I can get the most for my money is imperative.”
Every Saturday local farmers and vendors set up shop and offer everything from apples to homemade soaps. Live music, chalk art and free samples are staples of the weekly community event. The farmers market one place students buy local, organic food.
Within a five-mile radius of the campus, there are three different places for students to grocery shop – the student marketplace, Wildberries and the North Coast Co-Op’s Arcata location. Students note that prices vary and sometimes seem steep. Apples might cost
$2.99 a pound at Wildberries and $2.50 a pound at Co-Op.
Prices at the student marketplace are also inflated even with the 25 percent J-point discount. At the Farmers Market however, often apples, pears, onions, celery, mushrooms and other produce might be priced by basket, bag or bunch, which students say is ideal.
Johnny Repp, a 24-year-old chemistry major, said that farmers market plays a vital role in his day to day needs.
“The Farmers Markets is where I get all my ingredients for cooking,” Repp said. “I worked as a chef for many years and you just cannot beat the pricing and quality of farm fresh veggies and fruits. No matter what booth or vendor you happen to be at there is always something worth trying at the Farmers Market. That’s why I come; it’s great food and its super cheap.”
The Arcata Farmers Market is also a place where students embrace their community. Vendors say they are all too happy to help students not only save money but discover new and tasty foods like exotic mushrooms and purple carrots.
Bob Filbey, owner of Bigfoot Plants, has been a vendor at the farmers market for more than 15 years now. He noted the market is one of the oldest continuing markets in the state.
“There is always a great selection of fruits and vegetables,” Filbey said. “It’s something you won’t get in any other store around here.” When asked why students should shop there, Filby summed up the entire experience in one sentence.
“Students should come to the market for the good food and diversity of people, it’s a great way to support your community,” Filby said.