Liberty Hall Farmers Market provides alternatives for students’ diets
By Kyle Lawrence
Managing a proper diet as a student can be rough. Many students survive on a meal plan of fast food and Starbucks.
But a local farmers’ market provides an alternative for the health-conscious student.
There’s no doubt that Kean University does its best to provide its students with a variety of food choices. We have a full-fledged cafeteria with food from many cultures, a buffet set up for the resident students and a miniature café with some less greasy alternatives.
The Cluck-U, which has appropriately re-branded itself as the Cluck-University, even accepts Cougar Dollars as payment.
But for those looking for a change of pace, or maybe something a little more organic, you only need to head over to the Liberty Hall Museum across campus to the Liberty Hall Museum Farmers Market.
“We are a vehicle for getting locally grown foods and other fresh produce out to the community,” said Susan De Pauw, market manager and graduate of Kean University.
“We operate out of the farm here on campus, which provides us with a variety of produce. This produce also goes to Ursino [the university restaurant operating within the STEM building], and we also serve local food producers here by bringing them in to sell their products at our market.”
One of these local food producers that caught my eye was the Freezy Freeze Ice Cream Truck, which has a peculiar way of making ice cream. Andrew Deming, who co-owns the business with Meghan Deming, explains what makes their ice cream unique.
“We’re the Freezy Freeze Ice Cream Truck, and what we do is we make ice cream with liquid nitrogen,” said Deming. “We take milk, cream and sugar, which is organic, like our flavors, put it in a bowl, mix it up, and make ice cream in about 30 seconds.”
This process makes the ice cream lighter and smoother than regularly prepared ice cream.
“The ice cream is very, very creamy because the fast process keeps ice crystals from forming. And there are no artificial flavors or preservatives in our ice cream,” Deming said.
The ice cream’s toppings, which include pretzels, caramel and nuts, can be made to accommodate vegan customers.
Another stand had something almost as sweet as ice cream on sale; honey. Aaron Daniels is a 21-year-old beekeeper from Newark and has been selling his honey for a while, and he enjoys the job.
“I make sure the bees are healthy to produce high quality honey,” Daniels said. “It’s my first year at the market, though I sell at other places too.
Other food trucks such as El Lechon de Negron offer authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, where pork is the meat of the moment. There were other stands selling fully cooked Italian meals, fresh produce coming right from the campus farm, and a lemonade stand run by Kean students from ‘Be the Change.’
Food wasn’t the only thing for sale. One stand sold several herbal remedies in the form of soaps and candles. There was also a lone juggler, who asked for donations in return for his show in the form of an overturned hat.
If you’ve gotten your fill of food, you can cross through the blue gift shop at the end of the market to reach the campus farm, which is accessible to all.
There you’ll find an apple orchard and many other fields that provide Ursino and the campus cafeteria their produce. The scraps left over from the various eateries around Kean get composted and used on the farm.
I asked De Pauw what her favorite stand here was, though she was reluctant to pick.
“That’s really hard to say. I love the honey stand, and the food from El Lechon de Negron, but I like the Freezy Freeze ice cream the best. Can’t get better than made-to-order ice cream.”
The food stations at the market tend to vary a bit week to week, but the Liberty Hall Museum Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will remain open until Nov. 21