Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Farmer's Market Update

“Hi sir, are you interested in some of our fresh vegetables? We grew them in the organic garden at our school, Langston Hughes Academy in Gentilly. We have collard greens, different kinds of kale, lettuce, tat-soi, herb bundles and bouquets!”

My memory isn’t exact, but that was essentially the pitch that one our garden interns repeatedly gave to anyone within earshot last week at the Crescent City Farmers Market. Unprompted, he began to reel in customer after customer and our sales began to mount. We brought our scholars to the tents set up for the blossoming farmers market located in the French Market downtown. They exceeded all expectations while there, easily outselling many of the other more seasoned market veterans.

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Our 7th and 8th grade interns have spent the last few weeks learning skills that served them well when the market rolled around: how to properly store and harvest greens, tying together herb bundles, and piecing together bouquets with the scant survivors of New Orleans’ most recent freeze. The morning of was spent putting the finishing touches on all of the above with the hope that there would be patrons brave enough to be out in an open market on such a windy and dreary day. Scholars minds were focused on the weather. Would it be too cold to sell? Would anybody be there to buy?

And yet with a surprisingly unbridled enthusiasm our scholars served as noble ambassadors of both our school and our garden. Duties were split among those who described our produce to consumers, those who handled the money, recorders of every transaction, and a revolving cast of scholars devoted to the upkeep of our table. Both garden teachers were thoroughly impressed with the diligence and perseverance they showed from start to finish.

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Taking scholars to the market brings a sense of closure and finality to our work as garden educators. We take our oldest students, who have been with the garden the longest to the market. And just like our departing produce, they’ll soon be moving on to the next phase of their life - high school. And in the same way our garden will replenish itself with veggies and flowers for a new season, they’ll be a whole new crop of scholars waiting to take the place of our market all-stars.

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