Royalton Farmers Market encourages kids to eat healthy food this summer
The Royalton Farmers Market is offering a new program this summer to encourage kids to eat healthy, local food. The program called POP (Power Of Produce) Club is open to all kids 4 - 12. Each kid who sign up receive a free tote bag and a $2 coupon they can use on veggies or fruits.
We visit the Royalton Farmers Market weekly, and even though it is fairly small with only about 10 vendors, I enjoy it very much for the quietness and the products offered at a reasonable price.
I signed up my 6-year-old to the program to entice him to make healthy eating choices and start discussing nutrition with him. We cook and buy groceries together, but as a kid, he doesn’t often have the choice on the weekly menu or what produces we buy.
On the first week, with his $2 coupon and his tote bag in hand, he scouted the market by himself, engaging with vendors about prices, and asking them about the health benefits of the veggies or fruits offered. He quickly realized that $2 doesn’t buy a weekly basket of fresh produce, but he was happy to settle on a beautiful bunch of freshly picked radishes from Moore Rhythm Farm.
My son with his $2 coupon, ready to support his local farmers!
For his second week, he wanted to buy strawberries he saw the previous week. Unfortunately, the vendor was already out. According to Peggy Ainsworth, the only vendor selling fresh fruits this time of year, her strawberry stand was a popular stop for the POP Club participants.
My son went around the market and didn’t see anything for $2 he wanted, so he chose to save his coupon for next week (AND he is learning about saving!?).
Each week, the POP Club organizers, Rachel Bigelow from Foxville Farm and Sylvia Moore from Moore Rhythm Farm, coordinate a hands-on activity for the children (from planting seeds to coloring and learning about veggies). The POP Club program was created by the Farmers Market Coalition and is offered throughout the country at Farmers Market. They offer all the materials to small markets to start their own program. So far, Sylvia Moore is very happy with the response she has been getting from parents and children. “Parents said they really enjoy it. I have seen parents stop to talk to farmers and purchase produce after their kids have made their purchase too,” adding that vendors have been happy to sell veggies (even asparagus!) to kids. They have so far 22 kids signed up, and are hoping to sign up 40 children.
This program would not have been possible without the support of the community, said Sylvia Moore. The South Royalton Market, Crossroads Bar and Grill, and Welch's True Value Hardware each donated $250 to sponsor this program. Members of the community, Sherri Headquarters, Dandelion Acres, Foster Gardens, the Vermont Law School, to name a few, are also supporting this effort to introduce kids to healthy, local food.
After only two weeks, as a parent, I consider this program a success: it has been a great conversation opener for us as a family about healthy choices, it has forced my son to go out of his comfort zone and to engage with local vendors, and it has empowered him to make a decision. But most importantly, he got to try fresh local produce!
I hope your family gets a chance to try it out, the program ends on August 17th! The Royalton Farmers Market is open every Thursday, 3-6 P.M, on the South Royalton Green.