Two academic departments from Western Carolina University are partnering with the Jackson County Farmers Market to present the first “Science at the Market Day” on Saturday, April 16.
The free and family friendly event will begin at 8 a.m. at the farmers market located beside Bridge Park in Sylva.
Scientists from WCU’s Department of Chemistry and Physics and Department of Biology will join local growers in giving presentations about the science of sustainable farming practices, nutritional eating, cooking, and creation of local crafts, said Enrique Gomez, WCU associate professor of physics and astronomy. Hands-on activities for children will allow them to experience the behavior of bees, the inner structure of plants, and the chemistry of natural dyes, he said.
“Jackson County Farmers Market farmers use plant biology to optimize the quantity and quality of sustainable produce,” Gomez said. “Beekeepers must understand insect biology to manage pathogens and provide pollination to farmers. Goat keepers use chemistry to prepare cheese sold locally. Chemists also help local craftspeople in preparing dyes for wool, also made locally.
“Sharing the science of farming can help develop a community appreciation for the quality of the products that reach the market, the unique knowledge that local farmers and craftspeople have, and the environmental impact of various ways in which food is grown,” he said.
The event at the Jackson County Farmers Market is one of more than 300 public events that are included in the statewide North Carolina Science Festival, which spans two weeks, April 8-24. The event in Sylva is funded through the festival’s Challenge Grant Program. More information about the festival can be found at ncsciencefestival.org.
For more information about “Science at the Market Day,” contact Gomez at 828-227-2718.
By Randall Holcombe