Pop-up produce stands outside of elementary and middle schools have been a hit in Schenectady over the course of the month. Oct. 17 marked the last of the four pop-up farmer’s markets in collaboration with National Farm to School Month.
Farm to School programs allow access to fresh produce while providing green space to students for hands-on learning experiences while also supporting local farmers.
At the four pop-ups, Rebekka Henriksen, Farm to School Project Manager and Leah Egnaczyk, Farms Manager at Schenectady Community Ministries (SICM), said they’ve given away hundreds of pounds of produce, free of charge.
“To date we have given away over 300 pounds of fresh produce from school gardens and local farms like Schenectady Community Ministries and Roots & Wisdom and through the generosity of the farmers at the Greenmarket, so one of the pillars of the farm to school program is to provide kids with hands on activities and teach them how to grow things but also to address food access in our city,” Henriksen said.
The city currently has one grocery store, Henriksen adds, making it a food apartheid which disallows school-age children the access to fresh produce.
At the Oct. 17 market at William Keane Elementary, children and their families were able to “shop” for apples, lettuce, collards, peppers, radish, swiss chard, carrots, and even basil.
“This has been a big success for us and also just watching a lot of kids and families get some delicious, organic vegetables, some of which they helped to grow, has been fantastic,” she said.