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Staunton Children’s Farmers Market earns statewide recognition

staunton2editsA children’s farmers market hosted by Staunton Parks and Recreation in 2014 has gained statewide recognition from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society.

The VRPS presented the Staunton Parks and Recreation Department with an award for Best New Special Event for its children’s farmers market at the society’s annual awards presentation ceremony this month.

Last spring, area youth spent a May afternoon during Staunton Jams—a biannual, downtown street concert—at a children’s farmers market, learning about gardening, painting with vegetables, “selling” their goods at the market and learning about worm farms.

The market was divided into several stations for children to visit, including:

  • A life-sized farmers market stand complete with an awning and plastic baskets full of produce such as melons, corn, apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage and carrots.
  • A vegetable painting station where children were encouraged to paint a picture using cut and sliced vegetables, such as okra, green peppers, broccoli, celery and radishes.
  • A photo station inside a 1950s Chevrolet truck generously lent by Staunton residents Pam and Jim Huggins.
  • A sandbox garden station built by park maintenance, which featured real and plastic vegetables buried in sand. Children dug up and harvested the veggies using rakes, shovels and trowels.
  • A vegetable root viewing station at which children could get an up close and personal view of carrots and onions growing inside a plastic viewing tube.

The idea for the market came about when the coordinator of Staunton Jams, Sarah Lynch, asked the Parks and Recreation Department to increase its participation its twice-yearly downtown concerts.

“It was great timing, really,” said Claire Richardson, recreation manager for Staunton Parks and Recreation. “I had just met the Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) fellows who were staffing and building the new Urban Educational Farm at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind. After talking with Sarah, Recreation staff met and brainstormed with the AMI fellows, who agreed to co-sponsor a children’s farmers market. We already had many of the materials needed for a farmers market, so it was a natural fit.”

The support of local organizations and lots of imagination were the keys to the event’s success, Richardson added. “What child wouldn’t love a sandbox garden in the middle of a usually busy downtown street?” she said. “We are fortunate to have wonderful, local businesses and organizations willing to collaborate and provide these fun and educational opportunities to our community.”


augusta free press
augusta free press