Pop Up Farmers Markets, they’re a unique idea bringing farm fresh fruits and vegetables to people who don’t typically have access to those kinds of foods. One in Wayne County recently focused on expanding access to the youngest of children.
Stephanie Dawson's two-year old son Luke attends the Playmates of Ceredo Daycare, the site of a new one-day pop up farmer’s market last week.
"I think it’s pretty awesome, especially teaching kids about vegetables and you know farmer’s market learning and letting them experience the shopping world as well," Dawson said.
The pop up market set up shop at the Ceredo daycare for four hours one afternoon recently. It's a partnership of West Virginia University Extension Services and the state’s Women, Infants and, Children Food and Nutrition Service. Children at this daycare are given WIC vouchers worth $4 to shop at a stand full of vegetables set up right in their daycare parking lot.
Kristin McCartney is a Public Health Specialist with WVU’s Extension Services who said the program has two purposes. The first is to allow the kids to experience the fun of shopping for healthy foods themselves.
"We’re really just trying to give these young kids this experience of meeting farmers and being exposed to different produce and having the opportunity to use their own money to shop which really gives them some empowerment around their food choices," McCartney said.
The second purpose of these pop up markets, McCartney said, is to help parents by providing them access to healthy foods they can cook at home.
"Anyone that’s a young parent knows that it’s hard to even go to the store, but to make an extra trip to go to a farmer’s market is even more challenging with young kids," McCartney said. "So we’re trying to encourage more participation in farmer’s markets by young parents by bringing it to them where they’re at basically, so childcare centers are a great way to target those young parents."
The farmers who bring their products to these pop up markets are reimbursed for the vouchers they accept. Sherrie Taylor runs Faithful Valley Farms in Mason County. She said she tries to give the children a true market experience.
"To me it blesses me because I love to watch the kids," Taylor said. "My whole thing when I started this was to teach people to eat healthy, no chemicals, no antibiotics and no hormones and I think that’s really important for healthy living."
Other pop up markets have taken place in places like McDowell County.