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The farmers’ market is a way to slow down and create community experience in a fast-paced world

2024-05-03 11:23:00

There will be a Farmers' Market at Corvinus again, and we discussed its value and importance with one of the farmers and our PhD student, Áron Borda.
Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem

The transcript of the interview has been edited for simplicity and clarity. 

Where did your interest in agriculture come from, what was the first point? 

We are engaged in agriculture, crop production, vegetable production and animal husbandry on the island of Szentendre, in Pócsmegyer. We have all kinds of seasonal vegetables, meat and butchery in winter, but also eggs, cow’s milk and dairy products all year round. In other words, everything you could possibly imagine for a small farm. 

I was born into it, and from the beginning I was there to help my parents and grandparents. I have several memories of helping out around the animals, but perhaps the one that is most defining is related to the farmer’s market. I remember the first sale I had as a child, I sold two bouquets of asters. A very special memory. Then I went there a lot as a child, which was always a great adventure. It has stayed with me ever since; I have been selling at farmers markets in Tahitótfalu for over 10 years. 

Did you also come to Corvinus because of your interest in agriculture? 

Yes, I was looking for a degree where the agricultural field was combined with something to do with math, so I chose economics. When I started, the Buda Campus was still part of Corvinus, so my degree means that I am an agricultural engineer. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering in economics and rural development, and I would define myself as an agricultural economist. So yes, I applied here because of family ties, but it was a very good choice. 

To what extent can you use the knowledge you gained during your university studies on the farm? 

What I can use very well is the network of contacts I built up during the years, because I was a leader of a student organization for a long time, now known as the Agribusiness Club, which has now become a nationally known inter-university student organization. Thanks to this and my peers, I have built up a considerable network of contacts, both in the corporate world and with farmers. I have met many similar young people, and I can use it in many ways in my life. 

You mentioned that you had a market-related experience when you were very young. If you had to convince a person who had never been to a farmers’ market to go to one, what arguments would you make? Why is it worth going to a farmers’ market?  

It’s definitely good for the soul, because it’s good for human relationships. A direct relationship can develop between the consumer and the farmer. In direct sales, consumers can meet the producers and get to know them. They can also get closer to nature, because they can learn about seasonality, and it’s not like in a big supermarket where you can buy tomatoes all year round. At the farmers’ market, everything is only available when it’s in season. And finally, I would highlight the local economic multiplier effect, because money stays local, it spins local, and supporting local farmers is good for the whole community. The markets are usually very atmospheric, people are happy and cheerful. A very good community can be created. 

What have you experienced at previous Corvinus farmers’ markets? What questions have students asked you? 

I’m lucky because I’m doing my PhD at Corvinus, so I also teach a lot of students. They are interested in what I sell, they like to see what I do. What I found is that the students are really open-minded, they like to try a lot of things. At the winter market, for example, the meat and butcher’s goods were a great success, although I won’t be able to offer them now because it’s no longer in season. It was also nice to teach something to young people through the farmers’ market. They could learn about seasonality and see how good the atmosphere is. We could talk about which products come from where, how they are made, what you need to know about them. So, there is a lot of added value in each of these products. Not only do we take it off the shelf, but we get a story to go with it. I tried to communicate that to the students. 

What is the business case for selling at farmers’ markets? 

I come to Corvinus not for the income, but because it feels good to pass something on to young people. From a business point of view, it’s harder here because I mainly sell seasonal vegetables, milk, eggs, and not fully prepared food. They still have to be prepared and young people don’t really have the time to cook at home, they don’t like to work so much with it. What they could eat quickly in class, however, sold well. Otherwise, we live off farmers’ markets. Szentendre and Tahitótfalu are the two farmers’ markets we go to, Szentendre has been our home for generations. It’s our main channel of income, it’s a well-established thing, it can support the family. 

In the longer term, how do you see the future of farmers’ markets?  

Two forces have to be opposed. After the covid, these places became much more popular, because you could shop outdoors in the fresh air, not in a closed system. It is also very important to be sure that you can buy food from a reliable source. And in the longer term, personal relationships are becoming more valuable, because there are fewer of them. More and more people want to touch the product, see it or even talk to the producer. There are more and more people who want to meet people, talk to people, or even just grow a seedling because of how good it is. It’s seedling season right now, I’m going to bring that to the market too. So, people want to do something tangible, that’s one of the forces. 

And the other is speed, to make ordering as easy as possible at home, and that can be a counter. People like to do their shopping all at once, so the market can be an extra burden. However, in this fast-paced world, going to the farmers’ market is just the thing to slow things down. This can be of great value and, based on customer feedback, I see this being secure in the longer term. One thing is for sure, it’s not going away. 

What products can people buy from you when they visit the Corvinus Farmers’ Market? 

I will be bringing cow’s milk, eggs, natural yoghurt, seasonal vegetables such as lettuce, spring onions, radishes, and also tomato and pepper plants. 

The next Corvinus Farmers’ Market will take place on 7 May 2024 at 9:30am in the Main Building’s Main Hall of Corvinus University. More details are available here.

Author: Máté Kovács

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GEN.:2024.06.21. - 23:34:15