Foodies are on the rise to find thrifty ways to consume local food. The Lane County Farmers Market is the perfect resource to supply this increasing demand. As a foodie and a thrifty college student myself, I am a part of a generation that faces many issues surrounding food and we have become increasingly aware of our food choices and sources. If we are socially responsible and desire to engage in better practices for ourselves, we seek opportunities to be active participants, conscientious consumers, and role models to our peers.

In search of ways to engage in healthy food options, like many others, I have started to frequent the farmers market. Lane County is an agriculture hub and residents have an extraordinary opportunity to source food straight from the farmer. At first, I was skeptical. I wasn’t convinced that my frugal budget would cover the cost of fresh produce.

I quickly realized I was very wrong.

Leaving the market with my bag bursting with produce and cash left over, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and respect for the items I had purchased and the hands that cultivated their livelihood. It is a feeling every frugal college student can experience.

Among the vast assortment of delicious options and appealing stands, I had to make decisions of what to buy and who to buy from. This is a report of my time at the market in hopes to encourage and inform other thrifty foodies to take a step into the farmers market. It doesn’t bite; but I can assure you that you will.

My first purchase was a half-pound bag of spinach from Groundwork Organics. The farm is located in Junction City and services nine markets in Bend, Eugene, and Portland along with a new farm stand in Junction City. Kris, the stand manager, informed me that Groundwork Organics is part of the effort to get local food placed on the plates of college students as they deliver produce to University of Oregon’s Carson Dining Hall! They also offer a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership which can be found on their website.

Spinach from Groundwork Organics at Lane County Farmers Market.

Photo Credit: Makaya Pratt

Gus, the primary owner of Eberhardt Family Farm, supplied me with a small bag of perfectly tart Italian prunes. He was generous enough to allow me to sample everything, including his honey, before I made a purchase. Eberhardt Family Farm is located in Myrtle Creek and is a great source for local honey, fresh eggs, prunes and citrus fruits. Gus informed me that he will soon be selling strawberry guava!

Eberhardt Family Farm Stand at Lane County Farmers Market.

Photo Credit: Makaya Pratt

I purchased French breakfast radish and spring onions from Sweet Leaf Farm for $2.25 each. This farm, located in Junction City, is certified organic by Oregon Tilth. A quick stop at the stand and you will be greeted with a friendly smile from Meredith Blair as she shares her valuable knowledge and tops off your carrots. Sweet Leaf Farm proudly sells their produce on River Road and a food booth at the Country Fair. Blair informs me that their products include eggs, spring garlic and onions, carrots, radish, spinach, nettles and “fan-freakin’-tastic” asparagus along with many others.

Sweet Leaf produce stand at Lane County Farmers Market.

Photo Credit: Makaya Pratt

The hardest decision I faced was where to purchase honey. After filling my belly with taste tests, I chose to buy Blessed Bee’s 6 ounce jar of their Medium variety for $5.50. The flavor of this raw honey is incomparable. I have already tried to put it on everything!

Blessed Bee’s raw local honey.

Photo credit: Makaya Pratt

My final purchase was the beautiful and enormous Farmer’s Loaf from Hideaway Bakery. This whole wheat mound of heaven, coming in at a whopping $4.75, is as delicious as it looks. The beauty of this bread made it very hard to make the first cut but once I tasted it, I decided it was well worth it and far better than the lousy store-bought loaf.

Farmer’s Loaf from Hideaway Bakery.

Photo Credit: Makaya Pratt

As a frugal college student who loves food and believes in the beauty of consuming local food, I hope to encourage others to do the same. It is not expensive, healthy for the body, and supports the local, hardworking farmers. If you haven’t experienced it for yourself, go to the Lane County Farmers Market this Saturday and witness the abundant harvest of our land. Taste it, and you will never want to step foot in the grocery store again!

written by Makaya Pratt, UO Undergrad