Farmer’s markets for children connect students with fresh produce | West Virginia News
By JESSICA WILT, Le Journal
SPRING MILLS, W.Va. (AP) – The last group of children rushed into the Potomack Intermediate cafeteria on Tuesday afternoon, with a buzz coming from students in the Berkeley County Schools’ summer program as they ‘they looked at the colorful vegetables and fruits perched on the tables in front of them.
As students eagerly waited at tables and responsible adults finished filling baskets with fresh produce, West Virginia Department of Agriculture planning coordinator Nathan Bergdoll said those smiles were the reason to be, his face betraying the pleasure of connecting. students with healthy foods from local farms.
âThese pop-up markets give our young people the opportunity to learn more about fresh and nutritious produce, where and how the food they eat is grown and a chance to meet the producers who grow it,â he said. he declares.
The Farmers’ Market was one of seven, in every middle school in the district that hosted summer programming, the initiative coming from a collaboration of BCS, the Department of Agriculture, United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, WVU Medicine and several local farms, including Spring Valley Farm & Orchard, Powder Keg Farms, Town and Country Nursery, Orr’s Farm Market, and Young Harvests.
The variety of squash, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, radishes, peppers and green onions in front of the students all came from farms not far from their homes.
United Way board member Charlotte Norris explained that the idea of ââthe Farmers’ Market started small and quickly grew as organizations came together to create a wonderful experience for students. Not only did each student receive coupons for choosing products to take home, but each also received a reusable bag and participated in an educational activity related to healthy eating and living.
âThrough the United Way’s Promise Neighborhood initiative, we are involved in various food initiatives because of our partnership with Burke Street School and being in a food desert,â Norris said. âSome of the things we have done in the past have been to start our community garden, our school summer food service program, anything that gives families access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
âOne of our old summer panoramas came up with the idea, ‘Why don’t we have a children’s farmers market?’ I had a call with her and with Carla (Toogan). She attracted other people. Nathan had funds through his program, so we wanted to make sure that all six sites we would be able to serve.
Funds from the Promise Neighborhood Initiative hosted programs at Orchard View and Eagle School, while a specialty crop block grant through the Department of Agriculture helped fund the event for other schools.
âOne of the things we’ve always tried to do as part of the partnership with the Promise Neighborhood Initiative is to partner with other organizations to bring these resources together for families,â Norris said.
Animated chatting online as each student chose vegetables, many taking the time to carefully explain why these were chosen, the students were tied to foods they might not have seen on their plates.
BCS Registered Dietitian Jennifer Miller told the story of a young boy who crossed the line, pointedly choosing a cucumber because he had never eaten one before.
âA lot of kids have never tried some of these things before,â she said. âSo that they can not only see it, but touch it and take it home, they’re much more likely to enjoy it in the future. It turns them on, because they can do everything on their own. Many children have been there and said that they deliberately got things they had never eaten before.
“It’s really cool to see the kids trying out things they’ve never been exposed to before.”
Ultimately, that connection and those smiles made the day worth it, as the students wrapped up their activity with Berkeley County student Melanie Jimmerson and returned to the classrooms with bags full of goodies.
“We hope these students will spark interest in growing their own food and potentially becoming our next generation of farmers, but at a minimum, they will be the next generation of consumers, thus educating them on the nutritional value and impact of the local food supply can have in their lives and their communities is extremely relevant, âsaid Bergdoll. âThese markets touch on many aspects of the impact that local products can have. “
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