Market Days grind out homegrown farmers, charitable coffee


In harmonious combination with the beautiful weather that has jump-started North Florida’s fall season, what could be better than spending the day outside at the first ever Market Days? The event, held last Wednesday, Sept. 30 in the Student Union, proved to be more than successful. Many would expect to find fruits, vegetables and other typical market produce. However, the tents in Student Union draped above everything ranging from snow cones, toe rings and henna tattoos to jewelry, coffee and organic soaps.

Organic and homemade soaps displayed alongside other various items at the Preferred Organics tent. For Phenie Madison, who sells all her products via her Web site, vending in such a setting comes as no unfamiliar shock. Madison participates in markets all around Jacksonville and puts a great deal of effort into her business.

“Last time I was here they had only two buildings, and now look, a farmer’s market in the new Student Union. It’s great,” Madison said.

The creative hygiene-enthusiast hand-crafts all of her soap using goat milk and vegetable oil. Abandoning the traditional notion of boxed, store-bough soap, Madison’s variety infuses zest to your cleaning sessions with an assortment of animal shapes — like pigs and goats — and natural scents such as peach and coconut.

Some tents attracted more people than others, but all brought their own style to the event. An especially interesting booth, Growers Alliance Coffee, cleverly showed up the university’s market. Coffee vendor Martin Kabaki grew up in Kenya on a coffee farm, where the beans get picked and then roasted here in Jacksonville. Kabaki said his coffee beans not only make the best coffee in the world, but his company also gives part of the profits directly back to the coffee growers. The bags cost $9 per pound, with both ground and whole bean coffee offered.

Alongside Kabaki’s coffee tent was his mother, Veronica Kabaki, who sold fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms.

The market became a success not only for the vendors, but the students, as well.

“It’s definitely a positive thing,” junior sociology major James Flowers said while scoping out the fruits ‘n’ veggies stand. “It gets kids out and involved, and it’s only going to get better.”

The Market Days, scheduled once a month for the remainder of the year, might see a gradual increase next year to two times per month.

Whether you’re looking for a tasty peach or a temporary ink stain, the happening had something for everyone. Keep an eye out in your Student Update e-mails for upcoming Market events.