Pitt farmers market brings farm-fresh food to Oakland


Rachel Dancer | For The Pitt News

Pitt community members can find food vendors from local farms and eateries gathered at the William Pitt Union Plaza every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. through Oct. 28.

By Sophie Earwood, For The Pitt News

Between bowls of ramen noodles, countless cups of Starbucks and the occasional self-indulgent shake from The Milkshake Factory, fresh produce isn’t typically found on a college student’s plate. But the Farmers Market at Pitt has just the cure for the student diet slump.

Pitt community members can find food vendors from local farms and eateries gathered at the William Pitt Union Plaza every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. through Oct. 28 ready to share their food products with hungry Pitt students. The market offers everything from fresh tomatoes to fruit pies to Chicken on a Stick.

Everyone from students to faculty to local community members is welcome to come browse and shop from a diverse selection of produce and food. Many of the booths feature produce from nearby farms outside of the city, and are accompanied by Pittsburgh-based food trucks.

Molly Latinova, a local vendor from Jak’s Bakery, said she remembered the food menu at her college and always noticed the lack of options for most students.     

“When I was a student in college I did not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Latinova said. “I would have loved it.”

Latinova said the benefits of healthy eating and a good diet for students furthers the need for  having farmers markets on campuses.

“It can help you just feel better and be healthier,” Latinova said. “It definitely needs to be on every campus.” 

Latinova said the farmers market presents students with access to healthier, fresher options, and allows students to connect with their food and get familiar with its origins. 

“I think people having a connection to their food is really great,” Latinova said. “You can eat seasonally, you can eat stuff that’s much more local and hasn’t traveled nearly as far.”  

According to Nick Goodfellow, sustainability coordinator at Pitt, all the food at the farmers market comes from the local agricultural community. 

“Southwestern Pennsylvania has a strong local food system,” Goodfellow said. “We have a number of various agricultural products from Pennsylvania.”

Obtaining fresh food like fruits and vegetables can be a trying task for Pitt students on a campus surrounded by concrete. Goodfellow said he believes the farmers market is an important opportunity for students because it gives students access to fresh food and produce on campus.

“It’s really important to bring sustainability and agriculture to campus,” Goodfellow said. “And farmers markets are a great way to do that on campus and in urban environments.”

Besides bringing fresh produce to an urban campus, the Pitt farmers market also strives to be zero waste. Shoppers are encouraged to bring reusable bags, as single-use plastic bags are prohibited. All food is also required to be served in compostable containers. 

In a community as large and urban as Oakland, events such as the farmers market are beneficial to building sustainability, according to Goodfellow. He said sustainability is defined as providing for people in both the present and the future, which boils down to day-to-day community efforts. 

“The University of Pittsburgh defines sustainability as balancing equity, environment and economics so current and future generations can thrive,” Goodfellow said. “It’s really all about community — it’s about getting everyone involved.” 

Logan Dimpel, a sophomore nutrition and dietetics major, said she believes that the market is a great way to bring fresh food onto campus, and for students to get in touch with the local agriculture.

“There’s not a lot of green spaces on campus, so I think this is good to bring the vegetables and the greenery back to Pitt,” Dimpel said. “This shows that Pitt is more than just Oakland. It gives people experience on what’s beyond Pitt.”

Connecting the Pitt community to the local Pittsburgh food community is just another benefit of the farmers market, Goodfellow said, and allows students to get to know where their food comes from.

“It allows students, faculty and staff to support those small local food systems and those small local businesses by buying directly from the farmer,” Goodfellow said. “And really get to know the blood, sweat and tears that went into getting that product from seed to your reusable bag.”