The Elgin Farmers’ Market recently hosted a group of middle school students from Elgin ISD who are participating in TCLF’s Farm-to-Kids Texas program. It was a wonderful opportunity for some of our community youth to engage with local producers, and the market was certainly happy to have the additional customers!

The students heard a brief overview of the history of the EFM and its management before embarking on a team scavenger hunt, competing in groups to see which could find the most unique product offerings the quickest. The students were then able to peruse the market and purchase produce with tokens provided by TCLF, a win-win for the students and farmers, and something we sure like to see at TCLF; young community members engaged with local food. 

a group of middle school students and chaperones talking at a farmers' market
middle school students talking to a farmers' market vendor selling microgreens
middle school students holding up products they purchased at a farmers' market

Every young person who learns about making healthy eating choices, growing and cooking food, and participating in the local food system represents an incredible opportunity for positive change at the individual and community level.

The United Nations’ State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity (1) report describes how healthy soils can sequester more carbon than the atmosphere and vegetation combined. Healthy soils are something that farmers can grow along with their crops, with enough community support to do so.

A long with the carbon sequestration, a single percent increase of organic matter in the soil means the ground can hold an extra 20,000 gallons of water per acre, equivalent to just under an inch of rain, meaning more water stays in the ground, cooling the atmosphere and sustaining plant and soil life (2).

Gardening has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety (3), and healthy food has significant links to academic success and overall health (4). These are things that participants of Farm-to-Kids Texas learn about in spades, and something we hope they will carry forward as young change agents in transforming our food system to be more equitable, sustainable, and a firm foundation of resilience for our communities.

References:

1: UN – State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity

2: Organic Matter Can Improve Your Soil’s Water Holding Capacity

3: Dietary Behaviors and Academic Grades

4: Dig into the benefits of gardening

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