Hunting ground for AU Eagles: Farmers markets
Here are four of the best markets within 30 minutes of campus
It’s no secret that fresh, high quality fruits and vegetables can be hard to find on campus. Too often, students resign themselves to spending EagleBucks on fruit cups from Megabytes and the Pod Market instead of facing the green bananas and limp salads available at the Terrace Dining Room, but there’s another option for students to continue eating healthy: the local farmers markets.
Farmers markets support the local economy, so you know every dollar is going to your community rather than a corporate chain. Regardless, many students avoid farmers markets due to the common misconception that they are too expensive; in reality, organic produce at farmers markets is actually priced cheaper than their grocery store sisters, and other products are marked at about the same.
With fruits and vegetables typically free of pesticides and GMOs, farmers markets offer produce that is healthier, fresher, more sustainable and cheaper than what can be found at a grocery store. Out of the District’s 29 farmers’ markets, here are some of the best within 30 minutes of campus by transit.
Celebrated as one of the top markets in the DMV, Dupont Circle boasts over 50 stands during peak season. With vendors offering everything under the sun, this market is best for a big grocery haul or more specific needs. Dupont Circle has you covered for everything from beeswax to baklava.
When: Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., year-round
Where: Right off Dupont Circle on 20th St.
Metro: Red line towards Glenmont to Dupont Circle
The Columbia Heights Farmers Market is one of the only farmers markets open on a business day, so be sure to catch it for a mid-week refresher.
With 17 consistent vendors and copious seasonal booths to choose from, Columbia Heights offers everything from produce and fresh meats to bakery bread and homemade pasta. Aside from all of the regular vendors, what makes Columbia Heights special is their Market Share program. Families or individuals can sign up for discounted bundles of fruits and veggies, with optional meat and dairy add-ons. The bundles are customizable for your needs, and are picked up weekly.
At the Columbia Heights farmers market, you might come across Hayden, who has sold produce from his uncle’s farm there for years.
“It’s really night and day,” Hayden said, contrasting markets and grocery stores. “You definitely get a much better quality of food [at farmers markets] at somewhat of a cheaper price as well.”
When: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., April to December, and Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., May to October
Where: Civic Plaza
Metro: Red line towards Glenmont to Gallery Place, green line to Columbia Heights
Alongside the usual fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and breads, Mt. Pleasant’s farmers market also offers flowers, herbs and locally-made sweets. They have a strict producer-only rule, meaning the only people selling you products are the very farmers, ranchers and bakers behind them. This not only cuts out the middleman and promotes a sense of community, but also guarantees that all the food sold is local.
When: Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 7 to December 22
Where: The Plaza
Bus: H4 towards Brookland Station to Mt Pleasant St NW & Kenyon St NW
NoMa is known for their peculiar D.C. vendors. Alongside produce, meats and breads, you can find anything from Turkish desserts and locally-made small batch ice cream to pickled vegetables and handcrafted spirits. They also sell “Spoil Me Rotten” dog biscuits for all dog owners to share their love of farmers markets with their furry friends.
When: Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 20 to October 28
Where: 1150 1st St NE
Metro: Red line towards Glenmont to Noma-Gallaudet U
With farmers markets’ attendance booming in the past two decades and the amount available quadrupling, it’s common knowledge that people are looking for an alternative to grocery store chains. There are many causes one can point to: the increasing price of conventional produce, the desire for a sense of community in big cities or the fear of mass-produced, GMO fruits and vegetables.
But in the words of Columbia Heights’ own Hayden, the truth is very simple: “You get a much fresher variety of food, a more healthier option of food when you shop here.” Maybe it’s time for more sustainability-loving AU students to grab their canvas bags and join the community.