Warren Wilson College runs unique farmer's market

Barbara Hootman

Tailgate and farmer’s markets are common in Western North Carolina.  One is unique, however, in that it is run by Warren Wilson College students.

From April through Christmas break, they offer  produce, meats and other products generated by college work crews from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays outside of Gladfelter Hall on campus.

Warren Wilson College's garden is meant to feed its students, but student work crews also produce enough to sell at the college's Friday farmers market.

The Warren Wilson College farmer’s market is not new.  The garden is in its 30th year and is currently supplying the Friday farmer’s market with cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, radishes, blackberries, okra, beans, peppers and lots more. The Warren Wilson Farm provides pork, beef, lamb, chicken and eggs.   

“We currently cultivate five acres of fruits, vegetables and herbs for sale to the Warren Wilson College community as well as the greater community,” garden manager Ben Mackie said via email. “Throughout the school year, produce is used in the college cafeteria and sold at the weekly markets.  During the months when school is not in session, the garden provides 35 families with a weekly basket of diverse produce harvested daily from the garden, and we are looking to expand that number next year.”

The mission of the Warren Wilson garden is to provide sustainable, organically farmed food and agricultural education for the students.  The garden crew consists of 20 students during the school year. A smaller group stays to work full time during the summer and breaks.

“The students are fully integrated into the crop planning, business administration and logistical execution of our entire operation,” Mackie said.  “The program seeks to work in tandem with the academic life stream of WWC, particularly the sustainable agriculture department.  The WWC garden produces delicious vegetables, but also provides a laboratory for research projects and prepares students to continue into careers in agriculture and small-scale farming.”

The produce that Warren Wilson College sells to the public is organic and grown by student work crews.

Products offered at the WWC farmer’s market include honey, eggs, local fruits and berries, soy beans, and a wide variety of vegetables, berries and nuts. There are also dried, fresh and edible flowers in season available.  There are also specialty products including soap, plants and candles.

“The herbs are managed by a student crew of five that plan, create, and grow all of the medicinal plants,” Claire Parson, student herb crew leader, said.  “The garden manager oversees the herb gardening. The herb crew creates herbal products such as salves, lip balm, teas, aromatherapy sprays, and much more.  The 60-plus herbs that we grow in the WWC herbal farm create the opportunity to provide products and herbal education/aid to the community.

“Our products are for sale at the weekly (Friday) farmer’s market and we also sell our products from the apothecary Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. located on the WWC campus."

For more about the WWC farmer’s market and the campus garden, contact  Mackie at bmackie@warren-wilson.edu.