Something fun to do during the summer on a Saturday morning is to visit a local farmers market. There are lots of them around, but Meridian’s is a little different. The vendors are almost all young people.
Garden master Jim Duthie takes us to the Meridian Youth Farmers Market to see what some young entrepreneurs are selling there.
Farmers markets are very popular this time of year in Idaho. We’re an agricultural state. But besides the produce and baked goods and other things we produce, we’re also producing leaders for tomorrow.
It’s Saturday morning and Meridian City Hall Plaza is teeming with buyers and sellers. But unlike most farmers markets we see around Idaho every weekend, this one is different. Almost all of the sellers are kids.
“That’s the underlying purpose for doing this, is to teach kids some life skills that will hopefully bode them well in the future,” said Becky Breshears, Epique Events.
And if they do become farmers - we’re working a lot with FFA and 4-H kids - they can take it and make a business out of it as they need to.”
Nearly a dozen youth vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, meats and baked goods, as well as artwork and homemade crafts. There’s also live music performed by youth musicians.
“We’ve always been big supporters of local foods, so it’s great for us to see that there’s youth starting their own food businesses, and actually growing some of the food,” said Mo Valko, Boise Co-op.
More importantly, these youth are learning valuable lessons and getting hands-on business experience.
“Yeah. Absolutely. I think it’s really a confidence builder for the youth to get out there and promote their own products and interact with people and sell them products and feel like they’re offering a good thing to the community,” said Valko.
Like Ryan, who came up with his own recipe for home-made snacks for dogs, that he calls Rydog treats.
These young girls and their mother are selling homemade treats for people. The brownies are a favorite, but this little guy is going for the big frosting-covered cookie. The transaction is a win-win…. the girls learn how to sell a good product and make money, and this boy learns the value of money by buying something he wants.
At Addi’s Apiary, young Addi is doing a booming business selling honey and bee products.
“I love doing this, and it’s my first year doing it, and we’ve done really well the past week,” said Addi.
Addi’s Apiary is buzzing with business.
Twelve-year-old Vincent sells fresh eggs from his own chickens, as well as fresh blueberries and cucumbers, straight from his garden. It’s a good value for a good product.
Not all the goods at this market are edible. Maddie Baker is a talented artist who plans to become a freelance illustrator.
“This is my latest one. I just finished this elephant,” said Maddie.
She read an ad for the market, and decided, why not give it a try.
“We thought it was a great way to get out there and start making good sales, because I just graduated from high school and I’m just starting my art career,” said Maddie.
These little pigs went to market, while the others stayed home, although spot and runt, only a few days old, decided they’d rather sleep through the fun.
But Aires the goat is more of a social butterfly, making friends with whomever stops by to say hi. He lives at Cackleberry Farm, where his owners, the Bennett family, grow fresh fruits and vegetables that they sell here at the market.
“Everybody’s involved, all the way down from our four-year-old all the way up to our 19-year-old. Everybody helps out,” said Rick Bennett, Cackleberry Farm. “It’s our first year selling out to the public. We’re really happy with the kind of products we put out there.”
Customers were lining up for what they had to offer.
Alli takes care of milking the goats, mom Debbie is in charge of the chickens and the eggs, and son Ryan does welding and maintains the small engines on the farm.
It’s been a family business from the very beginning.
“They’ve been part of every aspect of that. I mean, they’ve seen it from absolutely nothing, to rows and rows of vegetables and fruits, and they understand what it takes to grow those, because they have to plant them and they have to water them and harvest them and everything else,” said Rick Bennett.
And the customers like what they see.
“But the people are just fantastic. It is so great to see these people and to interact with them. Everybody’s just happy, you know?” said Bennett.
If you come down to the Meridian Youth Farmers Market, which is every Saturday through the end of September, you’ll be able to sample all of the goods, as well as meet Aires the goat.
The Meridian Youth Farmers Market runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon through Sept. 24. It’s located at the City Hall Plaza in downtown Meridian.