Illustration by Will Willis.
Illustration by Will Willis.

The TCSA and the Peterborough Farmers’ Market are planning on launching a special discount card for purchases made at the local farmers’ market. A trial run is going to take place from February until August.

Alaine Spiwak, the TCSA Ethical Standards Commissioner, has been working towards creating a Farmers’ Market discount card for Trent students during her term on the TCSA board. The card would allow students to get different types of discounts at the market.

Spiwak is currently negotiating with vendors about what these discounts would look like. For some, it will involve a 10% discount, and for others, special deals such as “buy one and get another free.”

The types of discounts will be flexible enough to allow vendors to alter them according to changing circumstances. It will also allow students to build relationships with the vendors and further improve their connection with food sources.

Spiwak also agreed that every vendor is different, and that the discount will be different according to each vendor.

One of the main reasons why the TCSA is pursing this initiative is to support local businesses. The card will not only allow students to purchase locally grown, higher quality products, but will also support the Farmers’ Market community and build lasting relationships between students and vendors. Spiwak expressed: “a big part of my role is ensuring standards of quality of products on campus.”

Some have argued that the produce of the Farmers Market is more expensive than the products found at major grocery stores. However, the quality of the products found at the Farmers Market is higher, according to Spiwak, since they are fresher and are not GMO’s.

The card will provide an incentive for students to purchase from the Market, since it will address the price difference and make it more economically attractive. In addition, the information campaign about the market will create more awareness among the student population and further encourage students to purchase produce from local farmers.

Spiwak also argued that the stigma around pricing at the Farmers Market is largely unfounded. She has found that the prices are actually not much different if quality is taken into account.

Spiwak is also compiling a list of product prices to compare the costs at the Farmers market versus large grocery stores. She argued that some products often have the same price range. For example, the price of a dozen eggs at the Farmer’s Market is similar to the price at large grocery stores (around $3-$3.50).

Reflecting on the discount idea, Spiwak expressed that “it is kind of disturbing to think of the kinds of foods we can get all year round at the grocery stores and still look fresh regardless of where they come from.” In contrast, the market offers seasonal foods, which are fresh and locally produced.

The discount card initiative will give students an opportunity to enhance their food choices and therefore increase the level of food security.

The cards will be available for pick up at the TCSA office and will include a package with information about the market, its location and hours, bus info to and from the market, and a guide to the different discounts. In the future, the idea is tha students will be able to use Trent’s student card to get the discount.

By the time you read this, the discount cards will be ready for students to pick up. They’re available in the TCSA Office, Suite 110 of Champlain College, as of February 23.