Most Penn meal plans consist of two components: meal swipes, and dining dollars. Meal swipes grant the user all-you-can-eat access into a dining hall on campus, while dining dollars work more like actual currency at designated locations. Every Penn student has his or her go-to location to use dining dollars. Some like the chips and salsa at Frontera’s, others prefer the freshly made sushi at Sushi Do. I, however, prefer to spend my dining dollars at the University Square Farmers’ Market.
The farmers’ market, which is held weekly outside of the Penn bookstore, features a variety of local vendors selling everything from succulents to muffins. My first stop is always to Beechwood Orchards, which sells locally grown fruit and vegetables. Throughout August and September, I stock up on white peaches, yellow peaches, nectarines and plums. In October and November, Beechwood brings at least ten different types of apples, as well as homemade applesauce and apple cider. When they return in the spring, Beechwood features various vegetables and berries.
With my bag of fruit in hand, I then head to Big Sky Bakery, the smells of bread and pastries already wafting my way. Some days, I purchase a feta and spinach croissant for lunch. Other days, I pick up a loaf of multigrain bread or some crumb cookies to split with my roommates.
Finally, I browse through the rows and rows of pots at PetAl Plants and Flowers, trying to restrain myself from purchasing yet another succulent or exotic houseplant. Although PetAl doesn’t take dining dollars like the other two, the prices are affordable as far as succulents go: 4 for $10 for the minis, $4 for 6 inch exotic houseplants. PetAl also sells herbs, tomato plants, and sunflowers at various points in the season.
Occasionally, the University Square Farmers’ Market brings additional vendors, but the above three remain the most popular amongst Penn students. Next time you’re considering buying another sushi bowl, maybe take a stroll down Walnut and supporting some local Philly businesses.
-Kaitlyn B, C’21