It's a Children First Good Neighbor Gift idea to promote agriculture, business and healthy eating for children: a Little Farmers' Market.
Agriculture is the number one industry is Virginia and the number of farmers' markets in Virginia is growing due to high demand.
That's why the proposal to bring a Little Farmers' Market to the area is drawing a lot of support.
The WHSV Children First Good Neighbor Gift idea to start a Little Farmers' Market program would include educating the children of the local Boys & Girls Clubs on how to grow and maintain a garden and/or a greenhouse.
Then, the community would be invited to shop at the Little Farmers' Market, which will be run by the children. The children will be taught to market, sell and account for the products.
Commissioner Matt Lohr, of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says, "I think it would be a really neat opportunity for children not only to grow their food but to sell it, to see that farmers can make money."
Lohr says now is the perfect time for a Little Farmers' Market. There is such a high demand for locally grown produce, the number of farmers' markets in Virginia has doubled in recent years.
He says, "There's a huge demand for locally grown produce and locally grown food. People want to be connected to the farmer."
He also hopes this will open the eyes of local children to a possible future in agriculture.
"It's exciting to see that renewed interest in agriculture," comments Lohr. "I think this would play into those hands, in being able to let people know, especially younger folks know that there would be a career in agriculture, it's just you farm a little differently than maybe my parents of grandparents did, but still have a great lifestyle."
The Boys & Girls Club children have been drawing their ideas for the Little Farmers' Market gardens and say they are excited to have fresher food to eat.
Not only are they excited to dig in the dirt to start the growing process, they are excited to pick their vegetables and fruits from their gardens and greenhouses to wash and eat whenever they want.
Todd Bale, the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, is excited about the possible gift.
He says, "It can provide something, have an exchange, cultivate some kind of garden, and grow it, nurture it."
Bale says the Little Farmers' Market program would teach the children many valuable lessons.
"Patience is involved in gardening, a lot of maintenance, daily commitments, and I think it'll have a great impact on our kids," explains Bale.
Tyrell McElroy, the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County, says this idea could teach the children something that will last a life time.
He says, "I think it's very important because a lot of the youth that we serve, they're not able to have access to fresh local produce. If they are able to grow it, and see how it's done."
He says the children can take their knowledge home and perhaps start garden in their own yards.
Lohr says, "I'm very excited to be involved in the project, and it sounds like it's a great education tool and a way to promote healthy eating and locally grown produce and have a life in agriculture."
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