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Second UCLA Farmers Market in De Neve Plaza will feature many locally grown and organic foods

By Kate Parkinson-Morgan

Oct. 12, 2011 1:03 a.m.

Handmade stone-ground chocolate. Locally prepared Greek hummus. Freshly picked plums, peaches and nectarines.

Rows of stands stocked with these organic foods and more will line De Neve Plaza today from 3 to 7 p.m. for the second official UCLA Farmers Market.

The market debuted in April, attracting more than 2,000 attendees. Depending on today’s success, five more markets are expected for the rest of the school year, said Nicole Klein, executive director of the UCLA Farmers Market and a fourth-year linguistics and psychology student.

Vendor offerings range from locally farmed vegetables and fruit to packaged gourmet vegan and gluten-free foods. The UCLA market shares many of the same vendors as the weekly Westwood Village farmers market on Broxton Avenue, said Steve Whipple, manager of the Village market.

“It’s all catered to student interest,” Klein said. “We’re selling basic foods that students can stick in their fridges.”

While the UCLA community stocks up on local foods, student musicians ““ including The Internship and Jason Pitts ““ will showcase local talent through acoustic performances.

Second-year statistics student Greta Olesen attended the UCLA market last year and appreciated the community feel.

She also said she liked how vendors sold items the dining halls often lack, such as fresh fruit and organic food.

In a move toward sustainability, the dining hall has agreed to purchase any vegetables left over at the end of the market, Klein said.

Directors of the market said the push for a UCLA Farmers Market, which began in the summer of 2010, has been complicated and often frustrating.

Although UCLA was generally supportive of the idea, the logistics for the setup of the market became very complicated at times, Klein said.

Proposals for on-campus locations, such as the Intramural Field and Bruin Plaza, were denied by administrators. Factors included fire hazards and scheduling conflicts, she said.

Once a space on the Hill was obtained, space restrictions due to fire hazard concerns greatly limited event expansion.

As a result, it became more difficult to recruit vendors, due to the lack of space and infrequent selling schedule, Klein said.

Because students often blocked the fire lane last year, this year’s attendees are advised not to linger in the center of the quad. Instead, students will be asked to use space on the grass or at the benches by De Neve Dining Hall to dine and socialize.

The permit approval process, along with the push to adhere to very specific and often costly health and safety regulations, also complicated matters, Klein said.

“There have been a million and one roadblocks, but we’ve taken what we’ve got and rolled with it,” Klein said.

She said she hopes the market will grow increasingly popular and expand to become a more frequent, perhaps weekly, event by the next school year.

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