By Shaun Pink
LAS VEGAS–Shoppers who lined up in droves for the first ever student-run farmers markets outside of Whole Foods Market in Henderson, Nevada last May had no idea that the most interesting items on display were not the vegetables—but the 9-year-old students running the farmers markets—selling vegetables they had grown themselves.
Students in garden clubs at CT Sewell Elementary, Walter Bracken Elementary and Coronado High School made a special trip to Whole Foods Market for the event, bringing the produce they had grown at their school gardens with them. Within an hour they had set up tents. Within two hours the tents were full of mini salesmen, cashiers and produce baggers. The student-run farmers markets were on.
It didn’t even take thirty minutes before several items were sold out with all of the proceeds going directly back into the schools’ garden classrooms. Andrew Malaka, 31, bought ten plums for a dollar and donated twenty more dollars to Walter Bracken Elementary School.
“What a great idea,” he said. “Especially when the vegetables are so cheap and it’s for a good cause.”
Student-Run Farmers Markets: Great Educational Tools
The student-run farmers markets are part of a growing number put on by CCSD students this school year. The idea was sprouted by local nonprofit Green Our Planet, whose Outdoor Garden Classroom initiative has helped install gardens in over 30 schools thus far over the 2013-2014 school year, with about 30 more school gardens to be completed by summer’s end.
The gardens are utilized to teach the students various subjects through hands-on education including science, technology, nutrition and practical, occupational skills using curricula developed by Green Our Planet and CCSD teachers.
Not only do the gardens teach the students about the food, but they also provide various ways in which to use the food for positive benefits. With the help Green Our Planet, a handful of schools have conducted their own student-run farmers markets, with 100 percent of the money raised going directly back to the schools.
Getting on board was a natural decision for Whole Foods Market, which dedicates millions of dollars every year to positive community outreach. Whole Foods partnered with Green Our Planet’s Outdoor Garden Classroom Program for the first time last year. Since then, the company has sponsored various school garden events including Las Vegas’ first school garden conference, student-ru farmers markets, harvest parties and even chef demonstrations.
Keri Moore, the marketing team leader at the Whole Foods Market in Henderson, noted that while numerous customers at Whole Foods Market desire organic produce, “Many of them still don’t know where the food actually comes from,” she says.
Moore believes strongly in the positive impact of hands-on learning and, with Green Our Planet, she plans on hosting several more student-run farmers markets in 2015.
“The student-run farmers markets encompasses everything Whole Foods stands for,” she said. “We believe not only in the proper nutritional education of the students, but also in the education of our customers.”