Market struggles to attract patrons

A student enjoys a popsicle purchased at the Farmer’s Market. Despite the enthusiasm of students who attend, some vendors feel they are not doing enough business.
[media-credit name=”Will Folsom / Student Publications” align=”alignnone” width=”741″][/media-credit]

The weekly Farmer’s Market that has graced Tech Walkway for the past semester needs more students attending, according to vendors.

“Compared to our other markets, this farmer’s market isn’t as good; the foot traffic or knowledge of the market just isn’t there,” said Donna Lopes, owner of Hidden Springs Farm.  The company produces and sells honey and beeswax products.

“Maybe try a different location for the market where there is more foot traffic?” Lopes said.  “More advertising for the market would probably help.”

The Student Center Programs Coucnil and GT Dining, which coordinate to run the event, have been working on ways to bring more traffic to the markets.

“We are working diligently to find ways to increase turnout for the events, such as reevaluating the frequency of the markets,” said Dori Martin, district marketing manager for Sodexo, operator of GT Dining. In Fall 2011, the market’s organizers partnered with the BuzzCard Office in order to offer venders the option of accepting BuzzFunds as a method of payment. Looking ahead, GT Dining hopes that by increasing the amount of time between markets when they return in Fall 2012, it can increase the demand for each one.

Martin wants more students to come to the market next fall.

“We hope to increase the student participation in order to improve business for our farmers and to encourage new farmers to join our markets as well,” Martin said.

Those students who have attended the farmer’s market said they enjoyed the chance to see non-Tech vendors.

“What I love about the farmers market is that it reminds students that they are members of the Atlanta community in addition to being a part of Tech’s,” said Mary Shoemaker, a second-year PUBP major.

The market, which featured affordable local and organic food, was created to offer students an alternative to the fast-food style eateries and dining hall options already available.

“After reviewing the feedback received from the Tech community, GT Dining Services and SCPC approached local farmers to offer them the chance to hold free markets where they could sell their products directly to students, faculty, and staff,” Martin said. “The goal of the markets is to provide local and organic food at an affordable price to the GT community, as well as to support our local economy.”

This article was updated on Friday, April 13 at 3:58 p.m. to reflect the version that appeared in the April 13 print edition.