Have you ever met a kid who prefers kale to candy? If you attended Sea Crest School’s fifth annual farmers market last Friday, you would have.
Fourth-grader Emma Will enthusiastically tore off pieces of raw kale, grown in the school’s garden, as she talked about her newfound love of the vegetable.
“I’ve only had it one other time, but I like how it tastes,” she said. “You don’t need to have candy or unhealthy stuff — you can go to the farmers market and get what’s healthy.”
Nutrition was one lesson reinforced in Sea Crest’s students in the months leading up to the farmers market. They visited farms and farmers markets around the Coastside, interviewing farmers about how they grow produce and picking up tips on how to price items.
“I’m always impressed with how engaged they are,” says Erin Tormey, founder of two farmers markets in Half Moon Bay and Pacifica and board member for the HEAL Project, which brings nutritional and agricultural education to San Mateo County youth. “When they visit they pay attention and ask great questions. I get a huge kick out of it.”
After tending to the school garden and taking agriculture-related field trips, students helped teachers prepare the produce for sale and made their own signs, price tags and seed packets. They also sold crafts and baked goods.
“The kids do everything,” said first-grade teacher Stephanie Hanepen. “They like being in charge and independent.”
The market also taught students commerce. First-graders played the role of farmers and bakers, selling their goods to fellow students, teachers and parents while also taking time to buy items themselves.
First-graders Jordan Grisim and Evie Goulart ran the produce stand, where they sold peas, limes and other fruits and vegetables. They agreed their favorite part of the day was selling their goods and applying what they learned to a real-life scenario.
“It’s cool because we’ve been to farms and learned so much,” Goulart said. “It was really cool to see everything we did.”
Philanthropy also played a role in the farmers market. Sea Crest keeps 40 percent of the money earned to keep the market going next year but gives the rest to Market Match, a program that provides financial assistance for low- or fixed-income families and seniors so they can purchase fresh produce. The program is state-run, but Sea Crest contributes to a local version to ensure the money helps Coastsiders in need.
Last year, Sea Crest contributed $500 to the local Market Match program, which Tormey said “made a huge difference.”