Ohio State program brings farmers market to Washington County schools

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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - The Ohio State Master Gardener Program is bringing a junior farmers market to every school district in Washington County, working with fourth graders.

Marcus McCartney, an Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, says “The idea is try to expose kids to local produce, try to buy fresh local foods, try to make healthy informed decisions as well as something to take home that's nutritious.”

The students rotated between four different stations. The first, gave every student $5 to spend at the pop-up farmers market.

McCartney explains, “They made any decision they wanted to make whether they wanted to buy watermelon some pied pumpkins, green beans, tomatoes, peppers the popular item was peaches.”

The next station, got their taste buds involved. “We had a recipe station, they got to try different recipes that you make with zucchinis, apples and some dip maybe some corn and some black beans.” Says McCartney.

Next they learned about nutrition. McCartney adds, “We showed them how much sugar is in some of these beverages like chocolate milk and pop and then we had this infusion water for them to try.”

In the last station, they felt the importance of soil. An Ohio State Master Gardener volunteer, Leslie Pittenger, lead that station. She says, “They actually got to touch the 3 types of components that make up the top soil that we have now. They loved getting their hands dirty.”

This is the first program of its kind in the state of Ohio.

“They were enthusiastic I think all the kids here were open to things they never even had before or tried before they're willing to try it and that's what we wanted them to do.” McCartney adds.

Pittenger says, “We really encourages them to try something different and take it home and share it with their siblings and their family.”

Tom Fagan of the River City Farmers Market adds, “I hope that we have made some healthy choices in our food but even more than that it would tickle me to death if I saw them in 5 years or even next year at the farmers market as a junior vendor.”

Organizers say they hope to continue the program for years to come.

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