Monroe residents saddened by the loss of several area farmer’s markets will get at least one this year. But while the grown ups will be using real money, kids get to use play money!
Wednesday Monroe will get a farmer’s market with fresh fruit and vegetables from local farms. But this one has a catch – kids are the primary customers. The community is invited to join youth at the market on Wednesday, Aug. 13 at Frank Wagner Elementary School from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
The project is the brainchild of Dana Daniel, Monroe Dining Administrator for Chartwells, the company that provides meals in local public schools. In addition to her day job, Daniel demonstrates kid-friendly cooking at the Snohomish Farmers Market.
“I’m really passionate about teaching kids about fresh produce and getting them excited about eating fresh foods,” Daniel explained. “It dawned on me, why don’t we organize something here during Summer Foods, for kids who might not have access to a farmers market?”
Summer Foods is the district’s summer lunch program that offers a free meal to children age 18 and younger. Meals are served at noon Monday through Friday at Frank Wagner Elementary School until Friday, August 15. No paperwork is required, just a healthy appetite.
The produce of local farm Willie Greens is already featured on the school menu during the year, but the summer meal program offered an opportunity to expand education about local foods to kids who may have less exposure to fresh produce.
“I grilled fresh zucchini and onions in July, just really simple, and the kids were eating it up,” Daniels said.
On August 13, Daniel will again have samples of healthy snacks to taste. Students will be provided with play money to purchase fruits and vegetables from the participating farmers. Shopping bags to carry home the food along with recipe cards filled with ideas on how to prepare the fresh produce will also be available. Families and community members are invited to visit the farmer’s market as well, as produce will be for sale to adults.
“A lot of kids have never seen carrots with tops still on,” noted Micha Ide, of Bright Ide Acres. She believes it is important to help kids learn how to make responsible food choices. “A lot of times when you start with kids, the parents learn as well. It’s easy for us to be a part of it, and it makes a big difference,” she said of the upcoming Monroe Farmers Market.
Mark Lovejoy, of Garden Treasures, tries to promote the importance of eating local foods and having relationships with local farmers. He is hoping that the kids will discover a new fruit or vegetable at the farmer’s market, in addition to higher goals. “I hope they’d consider becoming farmers, or at least people who eat more healthy food,” he said.