As they prepare for opening day of the farmers market, the Downtown Divas plan to kick off a new program aimed at getting kids to make healthy food choices.
Starting May 30, the Downtown Crescent City Farmers & Artisans Market will launch the Power of Produce Club. Targeting youngsters ages 4-14, the program will allow kids to learn about fruits, vegetables and gardening, said Downtown Divas President Billie Kaye Gavin-Tygart. They’ll also be able to learn new recipes, be introduced to their local farmers and receive $3 each week to spend on produce at the market, she said.
“It’s going to be a stand alone pop-up tent club,” Gavin-Tygart said. “We’re going to do a two-bite test of whatever we’re introducing that week. The kids get to taste it and they give us feedback on whether they like it. If it’s a vegetable we may grill it or put it in a smoothie if it’s kale. (Just) show them different opportunities to be healthy.”
The Power of Produce (POP) has been implemented in farmers markets across the U.S. and Canada, according to a Downtown Divas press release. In 2014, 1,434 kids joined the program, which resulted in 5,474 trips to their local farmers market, according to the release.
In Del Norte County, the Power of Produce program is organized through a partnership with the Downtown Divas, SNAP-Ed, the Community Food Council, the Del Norte Child Care Council and the Del Norte County Library, Gavin-Tygart said.
Other partners include the Del Norte Healthcare District, Sutter Coast Hospital, the Wild Rivers Community Foundation and the Del Norte County Senior Center, according to the press release.
According to Gavin-Tygart, the Downtown Divas organization isn’t asking local farmers to donate to the program. Sunny Baker, who oversees SNAP-Ed, which teaches people using or eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) about good nutrition, will purchase the produce used in the taste tests.
Gavin-Tygart said youngsters will also do a fun science or art activity as well and receive a passport to be marked off each time they participate.
“I know our kids,” she said. “So many of them are on SNAP or EBT, sometimes their parents are just making easier choices.”
According to the Divas news release, 72 percent of Power of Produce participants have tried a new fruit or vegetable through the program. Seventy-percent of their parents reported that their youngster requests the produce they tried, according to the release.
Another new development at the Downtown Crescent City Farmers & Artisans Market is a program that allows local gardeners or backyard farmers to sell the produce they grow, Gavin-Tygart said.
“If you have garden beds and you’re raising carrots and one week you’re going to have too many carrots, you can come to the Wednesday market and for $2 you can come and sell your produce, vegetables, fruit, whatever you have,” she said. “There’s no obligation to come back every week. It’s just that farmer connection and farm-to-table thought process.”
Gavin-Tygart noted earlier in the season Ocean Air Farms is often the only produce vendor. She said people participating in the co-op program could also have used local community gardens to grow their produce.
The Downtown Crescent City Farmers & Artisans Market will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. every Wednesday starting May 30. For more information, visit www.downtowndivas.org/downtown-farmers-artisans-market.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at email@example.com .