After nearly two years, throngs of students returned to Red Square to buy artisan food and support local vendors as part of the Georgetown University Farmers’ Market (GUFM).
GUFM, a student-run not-for-profit organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and supports local businesses, returned to Red Square on Oct. 6 at limited operational status. Local vendors included Timber Pizza Co., a mobile wood oven pizza truck; Yoga in a Bowl, an Indian restaurant; Borek-G, a Turkish restaurant; and Maracas Ice Pops, an ice pops vendor. The Farmers’ Market did not operate last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The market’s revival signals the comeback of a beloved campus tradition, according to Irmak Şensöz (SFS ’23).
“I think the Farmers’ Market was something that most students looked forward to a lot every Wednesday, and so just being able to go again — even if the options are pretty limited — is a sign of returning to normal and what Georgetown was once like pre-pandemic,” Şensöz said in an interview with The Hoya.
In the past, the Farmers’ Market featured 16 vendors from the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, as well as two vendors run by graduates of the Georgetown community. The Farmers’ Market also included 11 pop-up vendors who appeared once during the Farmers’ Market season, which runs during the early fall and late spring.
In past years, the Farmers’ Market has offered a wider range of food options from local vendors, including Ashton Farms, a fruit orchard; Craft Kombucha, a kombucha brewery; Panorama Bakery, an artisan bakery; and DMV Empanadas, a restaurant serving homemade empanadas.
Tents and limited space in Red Square forced GUFM to scale back the size of the Farmers’ Market, according to GUFM co-director Madeleine O’Hara (SFS ’22).
The Farmers’ Market is enforcing COVID-19 safety measures, including requiring all individuals to be masked while in line, despite university policy allowing fully vaccinated students to not wear masks while outdoors. Vendors are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to O’Hara.
While the Farmers’ Market is currently offering limited space for vendors, the organization plans to increase its operating status throughout the fall and spring, according to O’Hara.
“We really just had to kind of give them pretty last-minute notice, so it was whoever wanted to come,” O’Hara said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “We’re also kind of starting with a scaled-back amount of vendors to hopefully ramp it up for the regular market season.”
Although some students noted high costs and long lines, the Farmers’ Market was a welcome alternative to Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall, according to Ella Braunfeld (SFS ’25), who visited the market for the first time Wednesday.
“I had the Indian chicken rice bowl. It was probably the best $15 I’ve ever spent here at Georgetown,” Braunfeld said in an interview with The Hoya. “It was a bit expensive, but that’s what you get for living in D.C.”
For Katherine Taulane (COL ’24), despite the long lines, the ability to support local businesses and enjoy the market made it a worthy experience.
“I thought it was really cool,” Taulane said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “I liked the different foods they had, and it’s just nice seeing a lot of students gather together to support these different businesses.”
The return of the Farmers’ Market signals Georgetown’s openness to giving back to the community, according to O’Hara.
“Ultimately, it’s just an investment in community, and the university having it back I feel like is a sign that they’re willing to invest in community because they know that it’s important to students,” O’Hara said.
GUFM also collaborates with other university and student organizations. The Georgetown Renewable Energy Environmental Network helps lead composting services at the event, and GUFM donates to the Georgetown Scholars Program’s grocery stipends program.
The Farmers’ Market is an important way for the Georgetown community to come together and enjoy a break in the week, according to O’Hara.
“It’s a pause where students can get together with their friends and really enjoy each other’s company, and I think it’s such an important community-building part of Georgetown,” O’Hara said. “Georgetown is a very fast-paced school, and this is a chance for students to slow down and enjoy life and being outside and being with friends and fresh food.”
Braunfeld plans to return to the Farmers’ Market soon.
“I would go back next Wednesday and try another stand,” Braunfeld said. “All those stands looked amazing, and I want to try all of them. So that’s my goal for the semester: try all the stands there.”