James Madison University

Dietetics Students Visit Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market

By: Michelle Hesse
Posted: January 7, 2015

The Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market is one of the main retailers of locally grown, sustainable products in town. The market was opened in 1979 by Samuel Johnson, a local farmer, and has thrived ever since on the sales of fresh foods and crafts. Turner’s Pavilion was built at 228 South Liberty St. in downtown Harrisonburg in 2008 and now serves as the permanent home of the market. In the Summer and Spring, the farmers market is open Tuesday and Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM.  Winter hours are 9-1 and open only on Saturday.  The market hosts a wide range of vendors, a few of which include: Aunt Esther’s Attic, Bluestone Vineyards, Cabin Creek Roasters, Doughnuts and More, J & L Green Farm, North Cove Mushrooms, and Singing Earth Farm. Many vendors are present at the market year-round, while others make seasonal appearances depending on the nature of the product they are selling.

In an effort to support collaboration and citizenship between JMU, its students and the Harrisonburg community, Dr. Michelle Hesse and her dietetics students recently supported local farms on their trip to the Harrisonburg Farmers Market.  Dr. Hesse organized the visit to the market as part of the class lecture series on fruits and vegetables.  Dr. Hesse commented that “the farmers market allows the students to see the growing process of fruits and vegetables in full circleIn this environment students are able to learn more about locally grown varieties of fruits and vegetables, interact with the farmers to better understand their growing practices and follow their food from farm to fork.”  The trip was followed by a laboratory experience, where students were able to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways.  This off-campus learning experience clearly captivated the students’ interests. Holly Schneider, a junior in the Dietetics Program, felt that this “was amazing to experience class in a hands- on way and really see the transition [of food] from farm to fork.”   JMU dietetics laboratory technician, Chef Amy B. Wild commented that “Many of the Dietetics students had not previously visited the Market. I was really impressed by how interested the students were in the market itself, but also by the very positive interactions that went on between the students and the farmers/business owners, and how much the students opened up and shared among themselves. It was such a positive experience that I hope it will be repeated and expanded."

Dr. Hesse hopes that her future lectures and classes can extend into the local community and focus on the importance of local agricultural systems in food and nutrition. 

PHOTO: JMU Students at Farmer's market

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