This past Sunday concluded the 2013 season of Lents International Farmers Market. I provided a big tub of gourds and little pumpkins for the kids to decorate with paint. After 19 weeks of implementing hard thought out farm related lessons for youth, I didn’t feel so bad succumbing to allow a bit less educational activity. The conclusion of Lents market marks the end of the first year of the Food Scouts program, and the beginning of many years to come. The program achieved its goal of engaging over 300 young people aged 5 through 12. The kids ventured to the farmer's market and used tokens we distributed to buy vegetables while learning about agriculture at the booth they visisted. I feel proud to have been the first director of Food Scouts and am grateful to the Summer Internship Advantage Program, which lead me to an opportunity I loved so much that I decided to stay until well into autumn, seeing it to the season’s end. Now that Food Scouts has had its first year, the infrastructure to continue it (including a hefty binder full of project descriptions, forms, advice and the like) is firmly in place for its next leader to take on.
For more information on Food Scouts, see: http://zengerfarm.org/index.php?page=foodscouts
Image: James Villafranca, market volunteer and Reed alumnus, teaches a scout about the process of fermentation.
Each point represents the address of a Food Scout participant. Colors groups addresses by zip code, and the black arrow points to the site of Lents Farmers Market
While half the work of running a youth education booth—called Food Scouts-- at Lents International Farmers Market is the improvisation of wacky games, the underlying other half of the work is data compilation. Because the program relies, somewhat begrudgingly, on funding from Whole Foods, it is my job to take note of participant numbers as well as their demographic each week. For example, I've now signed up 206 kids between the ages of 5 and 12, but we are still 94 short of the 300 goal. On July 28th, 15 new kids joined, but on July 21st, there were 24 new scouts. I might look at geographical outreach the week before (did I post fliers in neighboring communities close by? Did I post fliers in wealthy neighborhoods that already sustain flourishing markets?) and compare this outreach using map points with the home addresses that the parent/guardians of the Food Scouts share with me.