September. A time of fresh starts, lengthy syllabi and the brutal end of healthy eating habits. Nutrition can take a back seat when the stresses of being a busy and financially strained student set in.
As far as produce goes, the attempt to buy fresh can seem fruitless in more ways than one. Add the challenge of locally sourcing your greens and the idea of grocery shopping might seem like something out of a nightmare.
But Halifax has an assortment of markets–temporary and permanent–to you’re your veggie needs..
The Halifax Brewery Farmers’ Market on Lower Water Street is a short walk or bus ride from Dalhousie University’s Studley campus. Heading to the Alderney Landing Market adds a short ferry ride to the journey. Both markets are open every weekend, supplying a vast variety of produce and a slough of specialty products crafted by local artisans.
A well-kept secret is found in the Bedford Basin market, tucked away on the Bedford highway. It’s a slightly further commute but is accessible thanks to the 80 and 90 bus routes. This market is fully operational throughout the week as a permanent fixture in the community. Combined with a bistro and a cafe, with spectacular views of the basin, this market is a great option for students who might not be able to do their shopping on weekend mornings.
Most widely renowned of the Halifax markets is the Halifax Seaport Market. Established in 1750, it boasts the title of being the oldest continuously functioning farmer’s market in North America. With a wide array of fruit and vegetable vendors, there are many options for prospective customers.
“All it takes is a reroute.” says Suzanne Gerrits, owner of Elmridge Farm. Stay away from the grocery store.”
The farm is based out of Centerville, N.S. and has been a vendor at the Seaport Market since the early ‘90s back when it was just called the Halifax Market. Her recommendation to budgeting students is to prioritize themselves and their health over quick fixes; money spent on processed foods goes a lot further when spent smartly on produce.
Gerrits believes the back-to-school bustle is a great time to start buying local.
“This is the high harvest season. The peas, the corn, the blueberries are all still in their prime, even the squash and pumpkins are ready as well.”
Siggi, the mononymous (meaning known by only one name) star of the Abundant Acres booth, echoes the sentiment.
“You can’t go wrong at this time of the year. Everything is fresh,” he says.
Siggi grins when he passionately advocates for buying local.
“The produce is going to keep better, and we give out great bundle deals here. It’s totally affordable.”
Bye freshman 15, hello DSU Market
The most promising suggestion for Dalhousie and King’s students may be even closer than the Seaport, though. The Dalhousie Student Union Market has its mandate in providing fresh, local produce at affordable costs to students.
The market, which began as a sustainability project in 2012 now serves both the Studley and Sexton campuses. Completely student-operated, the DSU Market is committed to making local produce as accessible as possible.
To do this, they run a weekly food box system. Guaranteed to be well balanced, the boxes are available in individual and group sizes.
“We always try our best to get one green, one leafy green, one fruit and a staple–such as a root veggie, in every box,” says Operations Manager, Caleb Sher.
Sher sees no downside to students utilizing the market.
“Our prices are on par or lower than the Superstore’s, and since the produce is local, there’s no sit time between harvest and pick-up, resulting in a much better product.”
An upper year student originally from Ottawa, Sher perceives the opportunity to learn about the bustling Nova Scotia farming community as another added bonus of the program.
“It’s always good to learn something new. Learning about these great local companies in rural NS is a great way to leave the tiny student bubble that can seem so all-encompassing at times.”
If the idea of a food box seems daunting, the DSU Market sets up a stand in the Student Union Building on Tuesday’s selling individual produce, as well as occasional specialties like fresh ginger, apple cider and locally made maple syrup.
“It’s always worth dropping by the stand. We will definitely have extra goodies from week to week,” Sher says.