When you read about how busy we are at the market during the summer season, it’s not just because we are at the cash register – even though we are grateful to say that we are busy there, too! But a lot of other activity takes place both publicly and behind the scenes.
Customer service is a large part of our efforts. Customer-oriented activities range from providing helpful information; e.g., shopping lists, plant identification, to preparing produce to customer specifications. Offering a cheerful welcome or helping get purchases to a customer’s vehicle are other examples.
During this season, our number one customer service is: SHELLING! A large number of customers prefer to buy shelled peas and butterbeans, so we offer them both shelled and unshelled.
Shelling is a multi-step process. The actual shelling is done at many sites on the campus, but the primary destination for most peas and beans is a 1-2 bushel sheller. Customers are welcome to watch the shelling process, and they often marvel at the output of clean and shelled beans and peas.
As soon as the vegetables are shelled, they are stored in a refrigeration unit.
Closed storage bins are then transferred to the kitchen and cafeteria area of Perry Wellness Center. After lunch, many peers help out with inspection of the beans and peas, ensuring that any debris is removed.
The peas and beans are then bagged in different sizes for the move back to Happy Patch Market, where they are stored in one of the glass-front refrigerators. Keeping the produce cold is an important factor in freshness and safety.
"We are excited about the working network of pea and bean shelling and bagging,” says market manager Phyllis Smith. “It is critical that the shelled product never have heat contact to ensure food safety."