Junior Achievement and Local First Arizona joined forces to design a simulated shop to educate students about making healthy food choices, respecting the environment and the importance of small business operations, entrepreneurship and farming.
Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell cut the ribbon on Sept. 4, launching the Local First Arizona Farmers Market. Elementary school students across Arizona can participate in the program.
“Local First Arizona is proud to be fostering the future entrepreneurs of our community,” says Kimber Lanning, executive director of Local First Arizona. “Having the opportunity to help these kids learn about nutrition and healthy food choices in the same program is a powerful combination. We are absolutely thrilled!”
The farmers market is intended to shape future generations of local entrepreneurs while teaching more than 10,000 fifth- and sixth-grade students, teachers and parent volunteers each year. The goal is to inspire them to make nutritional choices that will benefit their health and the environment for years to come.
“There’s a very real connection between financial literacy and food literacy,” says Iain Hamp, Wells Fargo community affairs representative and a long-time Junior Achievement Board Member and volunteer. “The risk of every health issue exacerbated by poor nutrition can be reduced in the lives of potentially tens of thousands of students, and the financial impact of that enhanced quality of life is immeasurable.”
Students will be able to buy packets of seeds, provided by Harper’s Nurseries and Landscape Co., with “salaries” earned during work at JA BizTown. Students who shop at the farmers market will be able to purchase coupons for free, kid-friendly instructional courses presented by the Valley Permaculture Alliance. Topics include how squirmy worms help food to grow, and how to raise chickens to have fresh eggs daily.
In addition to growing their own fruits and vegetables, students will be able to sample granola that is packaged by the Adult Vocational Program at Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC).
“SARRC is thrilled to have an ongoing customer to purchase our granola,” said SARRC President Jeri Kendle. ” Our students work hard to deliver nutritious, quality products and the LFA Farmer’s Market will keep us working.”