As part of California Lutheran University’s Green Week, students were able to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and other items from Fair Trade vendors in Kingsmen Park during the Sustainability Fair April 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event was led by Associated Students of California Lutheran University Senate’s sustainability committee in collaboration with Cal Lutheran’s sustainability and social justice intern Rachel Lapp. The sustainability committee began this semester and is comprised of four senators.
“Alicia [Light], Christina [Manning], Zach [Damir] and I decided that we were going to do a sustainability fair with some other little events that connected to sustainability, basically just to propel our university forward in an effort to become a more sustainable university,” sophomore representative Alexis Ghattas said.
Vendors at the event included Yankee Doodle Bakery, Saving a Life Together (SALT) which sells tote bags made of up-cycled feed bags to help victims of human trafficking, Cal Lutheran Beekeepers, the SEEd Garden, Whole Foods Market and more.
The first 250 attendees of the event were able to receive free reusable shopping bags, which they could use during the fair to carry purchased items.
“Passports” were also distributed so that people who visited any four tables were able to receive free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and enter a raffle to win one of seven Hydro Flasks purchased by Senate, senior representative Christina Manning said.
Their committee had a total budget of $3,200 for the fair, Manning said.
She said free Ben & Jerry’s cost $1,350 and the Hydro Flasks cost approximately $40 each for a total of $280.
In order for each farmers market vendor to attend, Manning said she had to work through Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Operations Manager Karen Schott, who requested $300 per vendor from the committee.
“Because it’s a stand-alone event and they drive so far I have to guarantee that they’ll get at least some amount of sales,” Schott said.
Schott said the sellers were from Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Stanton and Oxnard. All of them work in a cooperative of 130 farmers that work seasonally depending on their products.
Manning said the committee also had to work around permit laws.
“There’s so many permits involved in having farmers here and we’re kind of doing this under the table, because permit-wise we couldn’t really get away with this, but since it’s a private university we can,” Manning said.
Items sold at the farmers market included strawberries, blueberries, lettuce, avocados, breads and treats from Yankee Doodle Bakery, and Mediterranean foods made by Mom’s Products.
Aside from the four farmers market sellers, Lapp, the leader of Cal Lutheran’s Green Week, contacted the Fair Trade vendors to attend. She also said she managed to get free giveaway items from companies through donations and the Community Service Center’s budget.
One company at the event committed to ethical business was Elisha C., which follows the motto “Haiti in the hands of Hatians.”
Founder Elisha Chan said all products they sell, which include jewelry, soaps and journals, are made in Haiti by artisans. Some of their products are developed from recycled materials and portions of their proceeds go toward education.
Whole Foods Market was having students make biodegradable pots of newspaper filled with soil and seeds, which could be planted directly in the ground to grow a plant.
During the event, students were also able to sign a petition for the university to hire a sustainability coordinator.
Ghattas said their Senate committee spoke with the university sustainability committee who supported the push to hire a person who would oversee sustainability efforts.
Another project the Senate sustainability committee has conducted is placing hand dryers in the Ahmanson Science Center and Pearson Library, Ghattas said. She said this is in order to reduce paper waste. She said they should be installed by next semester.
The same farmers market vendors from the Sustainability Fair can be found at the regular Thousand Oaks farmers market, which takes place on Thursdays at The Oaks Mall from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
Schott said they also hope to do more at Cal Lutheran in the future.
“We want to work with the university here to see if there’s a way we can do more partnering throughout the year,” Schott said.