Claremont Market Shares celebrated its first market day of the semester this past Thursday, Feb. 2. The group is a student-run food distribution program that works with sustainable, ethical farms in nearby areas to offer affordable boxes of produce to Claremont students, staff, faculty, and the community every week.
The farms that Claremont Market Shares works with include the Huerta del Valle community garden in Ontario and the Sage Mountain farm in Anza, which both harvest organically grown and fresh produce every week.
“A lot of the farms we work with are too small to have their own market shares,” said Claremont Market Shares' market day coordinator Mallory Mackey SC ’17. “We connect them together and overall we are able to have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program”.
This week the shares contained a variety of fruits and vegetables such as grapefruits, tangerines, mixed lettuce boxes, turnips, kale, finger length potatoes, and spaghetti squash. The boxes include six to eight food items, which are enough to feed 2-4 people weekly.
“Our group is open to everyone, and we specifically love offering our services to the Claremont staff,” purchasing coordinator Sally Vandenberg CM ’17 said. “Our prices are really affordable and it’s on a sliding income scale, which means that the price you pay is determined by your income level. We also have subsidised shares which we put together through donations, fundraising, et cetera, and these help cover the costs of some of the boxes for the people who need it.”
What sets the group apart from other similar groups is their ethical practices and the freshness of their produce.
“We also put a lot of money back into the economy,” Mackey said. “We make sure the farms we work pay their workers a fair wage. Sometimes, even in farmer’s markets, that’s not something that you can be completely sure of, because it’s not included in the definition of ‘fresh produce’.”
This year the group extended their services to Claremont Graduate University students, offering subsidized shares to ensure everyone has access to their program. Johari Du Point, a CGU student and first time shareholder, said that what attracted her the most is “the group’s transparency about the farmers' fair wages and where the money is going. By buying their produce I know that it is going to local farmers and helping to support them.”
The variety of the produce is another attraction for some shareholders.
“Usually the produce from other market shares is very monotonous, but here it is very diverse, and it includes things which you can’t get from grocery stores or other places,” said one Pitzer professor who has been a shareholder for over a year.
Claremont Market Shares runs on a weekly basis, every Thursday from 12-5 p.m. at the Shakedown Café.