Student Farmers Market 2023: Empowering Young Farmers in Las Vegas
August 17, 2023
The start of a beautiful story
It was a cold grey day in November, 2014, when the first farmers market ever run by Clark County School District students was held at John S Park Elementary School in downtown Las Vegas. Teacher and Garden Team Leader at the school, Kat Coveney, had a beautiful new school garden exploding with vegetables when she reached out to us and asked what we recommended they do with all the vegetables, squash, pumpkins, eggplant, lettuces, carrots and so much more? We suggested perhaps a farmers market would be the way to go.
Students’ First Farmers Market: A Triumph for the Green Our Planet Program
The students wrote a business plan for their garden, figured out their expenses and created posters in English and Spanish to let their parents know about the market. It was a blustery day and everyone was wrapped up well. But the smiles on the students faces were big. One student commented, ‘This is my first job, I’ve always wanted a first job!” which was pretty good considering she was only 10 years old.
Some students brought their parents on a bilingual tour of the garden. Others were in charge of selling while a few were cashiers. The more gregarious students were out in front of the school waving their brightly painted posters shouting at the top of their lungs that there was a student farmers market on the play ground and hurry up and get your veggies. All in all the students were sold out in 20 minutes. They made over $200 and everyone was very pleased with themselves.
Parents were amazed that such fresh and delicious vegetables had been grown by their children in their school garden. Kat and other teachers immediately understood that for students to participate in a sustainable program like this was potentially life changing for them. The new Green Our Planet program had the potential to spark the next Elon Musk or Steve Jobs.
But most of all, it was the students who triumphed. They couldn’t believe that the vegetables they’d tended for the previous few months had been purchased by their parents and now they had the opportunity to use that money to invest back into their garden program. From the smiles on their faces, you could tell they were really quite pleased with themselves…
The Impact on Student Farmers Markets in Nevada
Well, that was 2014. Since then, students across Nevada host farmers markets throughout the school year. More than 200 farmers markets are held each year at schools where Green Our Planet is running its outdoor garden and/or hydroponics programs. Some of those schools hold monthly markets and some schools with very large gardens host weekly markets.
Twice a year, in April and October, Green Our Planet hosts the Giant Student Farmers Market in Las Vegas, when schools across the Clark County School District come together to participate in a giant market. The first large student farmers market was held outside Whole Foods Market in Henderson, when four local schools came together to sell the fruits and veggies from their healthy gardens.
Since then, the market has grown significantly and on April 21st of this year, Green Our Planet will host the largest student-run farmers market ever. Over 700+ students from 63 CCSD schools will gather in Downtown Summerlin where they will put all the business skills they’ve learned to the test and will compete with each other to see who can turn the largest profit from their produce.
The Joy of Empowering Student Entrepreneurs on April 21st 2023
The most exciting thing about the Giant Student Farmers market is the sheer joy it creates. From the moment the students disembark from the school buses, staggering under the weight of their boxes of fruit and veggies to the applause and cheers from all the volunteers, you can see the joy on their faces.
Students are proud and excited to be representing their schools. They put the negotiating skills they were trained to use in the classroom to the test with big smiles and a lot of charm. They’re learning by experiencing and doing, the most powerful form of learning there is. On more than one occasion, I’ve overheard students say this was the best day of their lives so far.
What an honor it is to be able to help empower students to become entrepreneurs and have the best day of their lives! It is also an honor to help train students, families and our community to grow fresh food locally and protect the planet. Hoping you will join us on April 21st!