It’s an unusual opportunity for a business but a fresh market operated by middle school students is gaining in local popularity as well as encouraging entrepreneurship among kids.
The Fairfield Fresh Market is likely the only farm stand in the area operated by students. Every Wednesday, from 4 to 6 pm through the summer, the Fairfield Middle School students will harvest, display and sell the fruits and vegetables at the school
The tables were filled with baskets of chard, rhubarb, peas, cucumber, kale, cilantro, basil, dill, carrots and radishes picked just hours before from the garden in the back of the school.
A $1,000 grant from Virginia Commonwealth University paid for the tents, tables, signs, scales and registers at the market. Proceeds will be funneled back into garden supplies.
Brenda Chambers came to the summer kickoff market Wednesday after getting an email from the school. Her daughter had just graduated from the school’s International Baccalaureate program.
Another parent of a former student pulled up in a car she was test driving to inform the group she’d be back to buy some vegetables.
Karyn Edward-Hills, a science teacher at Fairfield, stopped by the stand on her way to the school parking lot, praising the students for seizing the opportunity to learn skills beyond the obvious lessons in earth science.
“It’s fun that all grade levels are doing it,” she said. “The kids are really excited about it and are becoming very resourceful…and it’s filling a need in the community.”
The Fairfield Middle School East End Community Garden opened last March as a learning mechanism for the students and another avenue for residents to access fresh produce.
About 60 students tend the garden the rest of the year through the Do Something Club, a chapter of the national organization that mobilizes students toward social change.