Do you remember the first time you tasted a locally grown strawberry or a freshly harvested carrot? Did your family have the opportunity to visit a farmers’ market when you were a child? Do you remember the feeling of excitement and autonomy to make your own purchases?
At BTLT, we believe that cultivating a connection to locally grown food should start at a young age, and this past season at the Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm we piloted a program to help do just that. The Power of Produce Club, or POP Club, provides all kids at the Farmers’ Market with ‘POP Bucks’ to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers. This program offers kids the chance to choose their own foods, connect with farmers, and ultimately get more healthy foods into their diets. One parent shared, “My eldest especially is old enough to start understanding things like what food costs. So, the [POP] bucks were a great way to start to introduce conversation about the cost to buy the food, how spending money in this way is important, not to mention all the discussions about the seasonality of produce. On some level I think the children also feel like their presence at the Market matters and they are playing a part in an important economy and community.”
The program contributed almost $5,000 to the local economy through Pop Bucks spent with farmers at the Market. And it boosted the spending power of hundreds of kids and families.
The popularity of the program exceeded all expectations and is why we are focusing this year’s Giving Tuesday effort on POP Club. We had over 350 individual kids from over 200 different families join the Club. We hope to continue and even expand the program in 2024 to reach more families and have returning kids join us again, empowered and excited to participate in our local food system. But to do this, we need your support! Every little bit helps; it costs $200 to fully fund the POP Club program for a single Saturday at the Market. That’s $5,400 for the whole Market season.
Feedback from parents was robust and positive, sharing that most children tried a new food, learned about different fruits and vegetables, made their own purchasing choices, and had the opportunity to build money management skills. Some parents noted that the POP Bucks allowed their kids to purchase something they wouldn’t have normally bought at the Market and that the extra funding helped to ease the family food budget. Almost everyone who responded to the survey noted that this program got their child or children excited about going to the Farmers’ Market.
Here’s some of our favorite quotes directly from parents of POP Club kiddos:
If you want to learn more about the experience of a POP Club family, check out this BTLT blog post.
To donate, click here. Thank you in advance for your support of engaging the next generation of local food lovers.