GRAFTON—Students at Anna Jarvis Elementary School recently got a lesson in shopping local and purchasing produce that was grown and harvested locally.
On Wednesday, the gymnasium was turned into a farmer’s market, that students were able to visit and buy produce to take home.
“This is a completely made up program from the mind of Donette Nines,” shared Taylor County Board of Education Director of Child Nutrition Services, Donette Nines. “I wanted to do something that made the kids think about where their food was coming from, other than from large chain retailers and other grocery stores.”
She said that a while back, she approached the Board of Education with the idea of hosting famer’s markets in each of Taylor County’s elementary schools.
“I wanted to do something for the month of October, which is National Farm to School Month, and I talked with Sondra Cain and Linda Casto and we came up with a plan to bring farmers markets into the schools,” she revealed.
After working through all of the paperwork, making sure to cross every T and dot ever I, the program was approved.
“I am so excited, and it almost seems surreal that it’s finally happening,” Nines expressed. “After doing all the work, working through all of the paperwork and making sure all the requirements were met, to actually be standing here watching the kids visit the market is just exciting.”
She revealed that Cain, Director of Technology, and Casto, Director of Curriculum, came up with a program involving technology for the students to complete in the weeks leading up to the market at Anna Jarvis.
“The agricultural lessons were geared at teaching the students where their food comes from,” Nines reported.
Upon completion of lessons, each student earned $4 in vouchers to use at the farmer’s market to purchase fresh produce to take home and eat.
Nines said that she wanted to bring about a program where all students could participate, and that is how the vouchers came to be.
She reported that the costs of the vouchers for every student were covered under grant, and that she even purchased one of the options.
“We had fresh vegetables like green beans, carrots and bell peppers, gourds, squash and pumpkins and apples for the students to purchase,” Nines revealed.
She shared that the BOE purchased enough fresh produce for all three of the county’s elementary schools, at a total cost of approximately $4,200.
“I purchased the microgreens for the students to try for another $500,” she noted. “So really, it wasn’t a bad price for all of it.”
Armed with their vouchers, students made their way to the gym to pick out their produce before heading over to Melinda Frances from the WV Office of Child Nutrition to receive their microgreens.
“The items were priced reasonably for the students, who also got a math lesson from buying the items,” Nines commented.
Farmers from across surrounding counties, who are part of the Preston Growers Co-op, provided the produce for the farmer’s market.
“We went with the Preston Growers Co-op because the board office is already using them to provide some of the vegetables on our salad bars,” Nines shared.
She said that she believed that the kids had a great time picking their own produce to take home.
“I think this was a great experience for them. I wanted to not only teach them where their food comes from, I also wanted to help make sure they had healthy food choices at home,” Nines commented.
Taylor County Board of Education member Clark Sinclair shared that he thought the program was a great idea, and he was happy to see the kids enjoying it.
“When Donette came to us with the idea, I was on board immediately,” he said. “I think this is a great way to get them thinking of where their food comes from.”
The farmers will be selling locally grown items at the two other Elementary Schools in the county in the upcoming weeks. West Taylor Elementary School students will be able to visit their market on Monday, October 28 beginning at 8:30 a.m., while Flemington Elementary students will host the farmers on Thursday, October 31, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Items available for purchase may include lettuce, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, apples and more, but those items are subject to change.
For questions about National Farm to School Month, please feel free to contact the Child Nutrition Department if you have any questions at 304-265-2497.