FEAST hosts first farmers market at Bruce Steele Garden

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FEAST Garden’s Farmer’s Market at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 20, 2022. Jessica Paik/The Occidental

On Sept. 20, Occidental’s Food, Energy and Sustainability Team (FEAST), a student service which manages the Bruce Steele Garden on campus, hosted their first on-campus farmers market. The market provided opportunities for Occidental students and community members to stop by for a variety of goods, including produce, herbs, eggs and tea bags.

According to Bruce Steele Garden Co-Manager Jakob Barton (senior), the event was created as an opportunity to give back to the Occidental community.

“We want to have everyone experience FEAST in their own way. I think having some sort of produce or herb or something to enjoy from FEAST is a great way to do that. And hopefully it will also lead more people to get involved,” Barton said.

He also said that FEAST hopes to make the farmers market a recurring event every Tuesday, but they are still figuring out if they have enough staff to do so.

Sarah Carbonel (junior), the other Bruce Steele Garden Co-Manager and main chicken handler, said that FEAST has been planning this event for some time, and that they are glad to share their work with the community.

“FEAST is a learning garden. We don’t have the capacity to feed the whole school. But, for people who don’t want to have to go to the market just to buy one cucumber, they can come here,” Carbonel said. “We produce enough that we want to give it away, and for free.”

Barton also said that FEAST’s farmers market is different and more accessible than a traditional farmers market.

“We’re calling it a farmers market, just to give people a familiar idea,” Barton said. “But it’s different than a farmers market, in that everything is free.”

Maren Frost (senior) attended the farmers market to grab some of FEAST’s herbs.

“I love the FEAST garden as a space. I just wanted to see what they have going on. I love specifically all of the herbal stuff, like the lavender,” Frost said.

Isa Merel (senior) said that she attended the farmers market for eggs because she lives off-campus and cooks regularly. She also said that she enjoys the garden and what it stands for.

“I am super interested and invested in sustainable communities. And I think the FEAST garden represents some of that,” Merel said.

Day Rhizal (first year) and Emma Patton (first year) make their own tea bags at FEAST Garden’s Farmer’s Market at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept, 20, 2022. Jessica Paik/The Occidental

Carbonel said that despite difficulties with the change in seasons and the recent heatwave, FEAST was still able to provide a variety of produce, including eggplants and tomatillos.

“It was a little tough because we just finished summer and entered fall. The seasonality is what made it difficult, because a lot of the produce we had booming in the summer is finishing off,” Carbonel said.

One of the most popular and utilized aspects of FEAST is their many herbs, Carbonel said. She said that lavender and rosemary are very popular for their scent, as well as how long they last. Those who attended the farmers market could make their own tea bags with FEAST’s herbs.

“One thing FEAST is famous for, in the neighborhood at least, is our herbs because we have so many,” Carbonel said. “Everyone loves the [herbal] tea, especially because of its medicinal properties.”

Carbonel said that FEAST also aims to create community beyond just Occidental by extending into the Eagle Rock neighborhood as well.

“It also brings people outside of the student body in, which is so nice. I love seeing the families with their kids come in,” Carbonel said.

One of the main goals of FEAST and their farmers market events is to create a connection and deeper understanding of the food we eat, Carbonel said.

“Going to the supermarket, you buy all this stuff, but you don’t really think about all the work it took to grow it and transport it and get it to your table,” Carbonel said.

Carbonel said that since places like the FEAST garden can be hard to find in LA, she is glad to give back to the city.

“I grew up in Highland Park, and I didn’t know this existed,” Carbonel said. “I want more people to know that this is an option for them. I wish when I was younger, I had these experiences.”

Contact Grace Mundy at mundy@oxy.edu