UNM Sustainability Expo

Earlier this month, Sunflower River was invited to participate in the University of New Mexico’s 9th annual Sustainability Expo, a one-day sustainability fair put on by the Sustainability Studies Department. It’s part educational fair, part farmer’s market, with local farms and other vendors selling plants, produce, food, and handmade crafts, and booths demonstrating everything from solar power, to recycling methods, to backyard chickens.

We’re known to sell eggs on campus — I routinely have a few dozen of our tasty farm-fresh eggs at my university office, so that people can drop in and buy them.

$5/dozen, y’all. cage free, farm fresh. drop on by!

UNM is in the center of town, and convenient to more people than the farm itself is, and as i keep regular office hours, this makes it mostly simple. So the organizers asked if we would have a booth selling eggs at the expo. And I decided it was worth doing. I took a day off work, figured out a bunch of farm products to sell, made labels, made a banner for our table, and started saving eggs.

Here’s 20 dozen eggs and two gallons of dried tomatoes, bagged into quarter-pound bags. We still have some — $5/bag, if you’re interested! They’re amazingly flavorful.

The entire farm helped prep the night before. Picking veggies, sorting and weighing them, getting them into coolers.

Here’s Dharma and Jenny weighing spinach

fresh green lettuce:

our project supervisor:

Getting set up was almost an adventure, it was such a busy hour. You can’t park anywhere near the expo, as it’s on a pedestrian mall in the center of campus, so you have to drive in, unload, convince somebody to watch your stuff (yay for the super awesome student volunteers who put up the canopy while i was parking!), go park, run back, and then set up your booth before the fair officially opens — but with substantial distractions on all sides as everybody else is setting up, volunteers are running all over making things go, and students are wandering through anyway because it’s in a pedestrian mall in the center of campus. Whew. Once set-up was done, the day was no less fast-paced, but much better organized.

And me at the booth the next day.

(photo credit Cal McManus)

My friend Cal came out to help me run the booth most of the day, and Terra dropped by for a while as well. We sold over 20 dozen eggs, and about a cooler and a half full of greens — all the spinach, most of the bok choy, and some of the lettuce. About half the dried tomatoes. All in all it was a successful day — fast paced, energetic, and entertaining. And exhausting! A lot more people signed up for our farm sales mailing list, and I connected with a lot of other farmers doing interesting projects around the Valley, such as the folks at Grow the Future and FoodCorps.

Pack out was pack-in in reverse, basically a mad-house, only now a tired one. Cal had had to leave earlier, so I asked another friend, Amy, who was running a booth across the way, to watch my stuff while I got the car. It took forever to get back in, with the lines of cars, traffic-control on campus, and all the foot traffic. But once in, it took very little time to load up and get off campus, in spite of the intense heavy traffic.

When we reckoned up how many people-hours went into organizing and running the booth, the day’s profits came out to $6/hour. As fun as the actual vending was, that’s a lot of work for not much. Plus it completely wore me out for two days afterwards. it’s a good thing I don’t do this for a living! Mad props to those who do! For now, I’m grateful for my excellent office job, and while I’ll happily do this event again next year, I won’t be signing up for a grower’s market anytime soon.