The Bethlehem Farmers' Market returned to Farrington Square on May 3. This spring, Lehigh's Office of Sustainability began a new initiative that involves making vendors' customers aware of the local and producer-only aspects of each stand. (Grace Rountry/B&W Staff)

Bethlehem Farmers’ Market returns with new sustainability efforts

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The sound of live music and the smell of fresh produce fill the air.

It’s a Thursday afternoon, and Farrington Square bustles with Lehigh students and Bethlehem residents.

The Bethlehem Farmers’ Market, which made a home for itself in Lehigh and South Bethlehem, is open for business from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday from May to October. 

In addition to produce items, market vendors sell specialties like Lehigh Valley-brewed kombucha, organic peanut butter, and Blendlife acai bowls and smoothies.

This year, the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market teamed up with Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability to provide customers with more information about the products for sale.

The Office of Sustainability works to implement new ways to educate students about where their food comes from and how it is grown and made.

Because the farmers’ markets has a significant presence on Lehigh’s campus, the office decided to highlight  aspects of the vendors’ practices, as well.

Sustainability officer Delicia Nahman works with campus dining halls to promote ecologically sustainable practices.

“The closer we can get to our food source, the more connected we are to the food we put into our bodies,” Nahman said.

The Office of Sustainability hopes to highlight two main components of each vendors’ practices: locality and producer-only.

Food must be produced within 250 miles of Bethlehem to be considered local. Everything sold at the farmers’ market is within a 60-mile radius.

All items sold at the market are 100 percent producer-only, meaning each vendor sells something they created on their own, whether it be grown, baked or brewed.

The Office of Sustainability wanted to not only set these standards, but also make consumers aware of them. It turned to its team of graphic designers to make this possible.

Sky Schneider, ’20, was assigned to create the graphics for the initiative. The Office of Sustainability gave her guidelines for the graphics, but the project was largely based on her own creativity.

“I picked icons that people who weren’t so knowledgeable on sustainability terms could understand what they actually meant, without needing too much background,” Schneider said.

She sent her initial designs to Lehigh Dining for approval and input.

Schneider said she hopes to impact the student community through her designs, as she didn’t know much about sustainability before her work with the office.

“I think its good to know where your food is coming from and how it compares to other places,” Schneider said. “For people who want to be knowledgeable about the topic, the designs are just really good to have at their convenience.” 

Schneider’s designs will not only be used throughout Lehigh Dining, but will also highlight the two major efforts emphasized at the farmers’ market.

Sandwich boards and stand labels will indicate the locality of the items sold by each vendor.

Allison Cronin, ’21, is a frequent farmers’ market customer who values organic food and ingredients.

“In the fall, I went to the farmers’ market every week basically as a way to grocery shop,” Cronin said. “Around campus, it’s hard to find organic fruits and vegetables and the farmers’ market was a great way to know that what I was getting was fresh.”

She also finds that knowing more about her food and where it comes from impacts her attitude about what she eats.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about the way in which the different items I buy are made and produced,” Cronin said. “I feel good about what I’m eating because I’m supporting local businesses as well as knowing that what I’m putting in my body is healthy.”   

The Bethlehem Farmers’ Market returned to Farrington Square on Thursday with its new sustainability initiatives.

Katharine Targett, the Office of Sustainability’s program manager, hopes the office’s efforts will impact customers’ decisions.

“We created the project to better promote the efforts that are already taking place that people might not be aware of,” Targett said, “allowing people to make better choices,”

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