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Think Globally, Act Locally

Environmental Consciousness built at Farmers Markets
WGHS Journalism
The bustling farmer’s market scene in Campbell.

Bursting at the seams with farmers’ market devotees and passionate organic growers, the streets of San Jose are swarmed from 9:00am-11:00pm every Saturday and Sunday. With slews of fresh produce and local honey in tow, hundreds of community members line up to visit San Jose’s award winning farmers’ markets weekly. 

First founded in 1942, Campbell’s Farmers’ Market (CFM) has continued to attract and grow a monumental community. However, the power of this community in the environmentalism movement has been painfully overlooked when examining sustainability goals on a local level. When speaking to Sarah, a local Santa Cruz business owner and informational booth volunteer, she recalled the history behind the market’s community; it “used to be seasonal and now it’s year round, so [when] the community shows up…we can have the market every week.” For an organization like CFM, these strides are enormous in supporting local produce and smaller impact practices. “Each farmer is required to have certifications for what they grow…to certify its organic and honest,” explained Sarah, showcasing how transparent farm to table ideals are at CFM.

These sustainability goals aren’t just made possible by the local farmers who supply these small batch crops. Rather, the community is truly where the dedication arises from. At a local level “it helps share my passion [with regulars as it aids] in the diversification of input on gourmet [products]…making the Farmers’ Market incredible,” expressed Etta Chase, an employee and ardent advocate at Far West Fungi, a mushroom business that operates in CA. Chase explained that at Campbell’s Farmers’ Market “there’s a lot of people that really care. Not a lot of people that do a lot but definitely a lot of people that want to do a lot” and “that’s what you need if we are gonna have change is for people to at least try.” Rooted in local efforts to perpetuate more environmentally conscious practices, we see that significant impact occurs from countless minute efforts within our daily lives and choosing where and how we get our food is no exception.

At the CFM, “there are people that bring their own bags and provide their own containers” which cuts down on plastic and packaging. Additionally, the provided packaging is biodegradable and infinitely reused. The “most important thing about sustainability is using what you have already,” declared Chase, an ideal embraced by many small businesses at these farmers markets. 

In the heart of Willow Glen itself lives a smaller market with equally as passionate members. Angelica Sergio, owner of Cepatli Tortillería y Cocina, a company who sources corn from Mexico and hand grinds and produces tortillas here in San Jose, began her business after learning that over 90% corn tortillas were being contaminated with GMO corn. After participating in community activism for over five years centered on her passion for more transparent practices, she developed her product to suit the needs of her community and the agricultural world.  Sergio says that as a small business owner “you have to facilitate your own growth and prove that your products are sustainable” to your customers. As a result of the environmental values held at these markets, she established that “the Willow Glen community is committed” and has continued to show up for her business since 2017.

When asking a customer of five years at the WG market, she told us that “when there’s a choice between organic and regenerate farmers” she chooses to prioritize those “local practices” that she truly values when shopping at a market. In a post pandemic world, the condition of the world only highlighted the sense of “urgency” in keeping these local owners’ businesses alive. The future of environmentalism and sustainability is harbored within these small businesses built off the support of these fervent communities.

From the up and coming generation of students here at Willow Glen High School, an overwhelming 85% of students believed that local practices like these set the foundation for our environmentally conscious footprint. With these motivations, the community around us forms a brighter, more passionate green future.

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About the Contributors
Violet Lahde
Violet Lahde, Communication & Outreach Chair
Cianna Miranda
Cianna Miranda, Communication & Outreach Chair

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