One of the best ways for children to develop healthy eating habits is to discover where their food comes from. Beginning this month, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s farmers, summer interns, and volunteers will help make that journey of discovery possible.
The farmers’ market is introducing its Power of Produce Club at its summer Wednesday afternoon markets. Children who join the club, also known as the POP Club, will receive a passport, a $2 POP token to spend on fresh produce, and a variety of educational tips on fresh, flavorful eating. Market staff will stamp the passport each time a child visits the market, and award prizes for every four stamps that a child receives.
The goal of the POP Club is to encourage children and families to learn about healthy eating during the more relaxed atmosphere of the Wednesday market. The tokens that children receive can be spent on fresh fruits and vegetables.
“The purpose is to empower children to make smart and healthy shopping choices independently,” said market director Julia Howard. “Education is the bridge between healthy eating habits and understanding where food comes from.”
Children between the ages of five and 12 can participate in the POP Club. The weekly educational activities will include conversations with farmers about the local food system, games, and samples of different kinds of produce. “Children will have the chance to sample fruits and vegetables that they might never have tried before,” Howard said.
Hosts for the POP Club include Diane Whitten, a nutritionist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Saratoga Farmers’ Market summer interns Sarah Morin and Carolyn Shapiro, and Serendipity Arts Studio, among others.
The POP Club is part of a national initiative. It originated at a farmers’ market in Oregon City, OR. It is offered through the national Farmers’ Market Coalition, of which the Saratoga Farmers’ Market is a part. Currently, about 50 markets nationwide participate in the program.
Howard sees the program as a way of establishing stronger community ties between the farmers’ market, local businesses, community organizations, and residents. The POP Club will run through the summer market, and children are welcome to join at any time.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October at High Rock Park. Inquiries about the POP Club and other market events may be made at “the shed,” located near the south pavilions right by the restrooms.