ESTR market: celebrating a decade on campus

Celebrating 10 years of inclusion, belonging, and sustainability

It all started with a cart 10 years ago.

On March 7, ESTR’s Market celebrated a decade of operation surrounded by present-day and retired staff, faculty, current students, alums and local community members. All in attendance gathered to support the program while reminiscing about how it started and what it has become since.

ESTR hosted various guest speakers throughout the festivities, each eager to share their experiences and memories of the market. Among them were TRU’s President Brett Fairbairn, the Dean of Education and Social Work, Yasmin Dean, Associate Teaching Professor Christine Miller, and the co-founders of ESTR’s Market, Saskia Stinson and Leanne Mihalicz.

Miller kicked off the event, thanking everyone involved in the operation of ESTR’s Market throughout the years.

“Today is a day for celebration for us and recognition of the important work that is done in the ESTR program… There are some people here who have worked for a decade to help the ESTR program… I want to thank alumni… [and] I want to thank our culinary arts [students],” Miller said.

President Fairbairn expressed how ESTR’s Market is the epitome of everything TRU stands for, as it is a place of inclusion, belonging, and sustainability. He said that the market has become a cornerstone of TRU’s campus and represents the university’s core values.

“It’s amazing to be here to celebrate 10 years of this very special activity and this wonderful place that really is at the heart of our campus. I am very thankful to all of you for being here for the retired faculty and staff, current faculty and staff, students past and present, and just people who like the food and support the enterprise. Thank you so much for that,” Fairbairn said. “I was thinking about how special this place is and why it’s so special to TRU and me. It sums up a lot about what our university is about, and I think of that through the lens of our university’s values… This is a place that is really, seriously about inclusion, bringing people together, creating a place where everyone belongs, but also inclusion in the labour market and doing something about giving people the skills to be successful in the world of work. It is about community. It’s building a community within but also connecting to the whole TRU community.”

Stinson and Mihalicz reminisced about ESTR’s Market’s beginnings as a small mobile food cart.

“Leanne and I, we had an idea; it always starts with ideas,” Stinson said. “So we sort of got together, and we came up with a cart. There were all these people that supported us… When we started, we only had one thing in mind and it was ‘students first.’ That was always in our hearts. We opened the market and thought, ‘will anyone come?’ And, of course, everyone blew us away.”

The new ESTR information poster, chronicling the markets history. Deiveek Agarwal/The Omega

The two co-founders shared how ESTR’s Market quickly grew from the cart. They would often sell out of food before the day was done. The fledgling business’s large customer base meant that it would have to expand to continue supporting its patrons, so it was decided to turn the ESTR classroom into the market it is today.

New posters hung outside the market show the origin story and timeline of ESTR’s Market, which is a great place to start for anyone interested in learning the history of this well-loved market.