BYU Farmers Market Offers More Than Produce

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Local farmers and artisans set up shop weekly in the south parking lot of LaVell Edwards Stadium to compete with corporate grocery giants.

Every Thursday from 3 p.m. until dark, BYU hosts farmers, chefs and artisans from the surrounding area at the second annual BYU Farmers Market. Until the end of October, the vendors will set up stalls with their best products in hopes of attracting the purchasing power of other locals.

Around Utah Valley, the common fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, peaches and zucchini are sure to be at any market. The farmers market variety may not always look as picturesque as the grocery store stock, but vendors assure they have more flavor, nutrients and attractive price tags.

However, the market goes beyond selling produce. Specialty food makers also line up to sell their signature edibles. Carolyn Burk, an Orem resident and a regular at the market, sells her homemade jalapeno jelly.

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“I’ve done this for four years,” Burk said. “I grow the peppers so it’s all organic and I made up the recipe. It’s a secret.”

Unique products like jalapeno jam are part of what gives the market its novelty value. Crowds gather to buy produce and discover new and local flavors.

“At first they’re skeptical about jalapeno jelly,” Burk said. “Some won’t even try, but when they do most people like it.”

With all the fresh produce and interesting tastes going around, John McDonald, the executive chef at BYU Dining Services, offers free cooking demonstrations.

“I look around the booths to see what people have and then I use that,” McDonald said. “I have about fifty different recipes so far. They use a lot of duplicate ingredients like peaches that you find at the market.”

He posts his recipes online at the BYU Dining Services website.

Many of the vendors at the BYU Farmers Market hope to attract the attention of nearby students.

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Sara Potter, an Orem native, is starting her first year at the market with her individual portioned pies.

“The students walk by on the way home,” Potter said. “My pies are just perfect for that demographic.”

She got her start making pies in a class at BYU. While experimenting at home, pre-canned pie filling left her unsatisfied.

“I opened the can and a big blob fell out on my pie crust,” Potter said. “I could make that better.”

Now she is putting her baking company, My Cutie Pies, to the test at the farmers market. She shares a do-it-yourself attitude with the other vendors, who often put in a lot of time and effort into a chance to sell their wares.

“It takes me 12 hours to bake everything the day before a market,” Potter said.

It seems to be working. Even in the rain, the market is frequented by students and locals alike.