Student volunteers braved the rain this Saturday, September 17th to help run a tomato tasting booth at the Salem Saturday Market. Local vendors at the market donated their tomatoes for market-goers to taste-test and vote on their top three favorites. The booth acted as a fun way to showcase all the various types of tomatoes being sold at the market and attracted kids and adults alike. Volunteers helped cut and prep the tomatoes and ran the booth by offering instruction and encouragement to try all the tomato samples on display. Volunteers also helped keep track of attendance by counting the number of community members who entered the market in the first ten minutes of each hour.
While running the booth was lighthearted and fun, participants were encouraged to notice the demographics of market-goers and whether or not they believed the community members at the market were totally representative of the greater Salem community. For example, the Salem Saturday Market accepts EBT (electronic benefit transfers), but the number of market-goers paying with EBT remains very low. In reflection, were asked to think about the social and institutional information and resource barriers that might affect certain groups from attending the market and whether or not the market really served all members of the community. This helped put the experience in context with the broader social forces at play in the Salem community.
by Juliana Kushinka, CSL Coordinator.