Students in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter at Nimitz High School invited the community to their Fall Farmers Market on Saturday, Oct.14. Hosted at Nimitz High School, the event served as not only a fundraiser, but also as a showcase of the things FFA students are learning in their classes.
The plan is to have two farmer’s markets during the school year, one in the fall and one in the spring semester.
“Our goal is to try and make it more of a real farmers market,” said agriculture science teacher Carole Gowan. “When we started it last spring, Irving didn’t have a farmers market. We also want to teach our community more about agriculture and showcase our students’ projects.”
The farmers market featured a student run exhibit called AG Adventures to showcase their work. It included activities from teaching children how to plant a seed, teaching attendees about live animals such as chickens and rabbits, to running their own dog grooming services.
“My students and I are putting on an agricultural experience. We have a doggy daycare, we also have doggy baths, grooming, trimmings, ear cleaning everything pets need to be squeaky clean,” said veterinary science teacher Marissa Runnels. “We’ve had an amazing turnout, and I think it’s been very successful as far as the grooming part. All the veterinary medicine proceeds will go to our program, so we can order more supplies and continue our services and continue growing the program.”
Irving resident Briana Becerra brought her family and German Shepard puppy, Peppa, to the farmers market to participate in the children’s activities and dog grooming services.
“I got my dog the “paw package” which included a bath, ear cleaning and nail clipping,” Becerra said. “The kids did a really good job, she came out looking great. It’s a great thing for them to be practicing, so they know what they’re looking forward to as a career.”
The farmers market also gave students the opportunity to sharpen their entrepreneurship skills by doing a Supervised AG Experience, which is an entrepreneurial community service project.
“One thing we’re really trying to promote with this market is teaching our kids who are in FFA entrepreneurship skills,” Gowan said. “Every kid in FFA is supposed to have what they call an SAE, a supervised AG experience, so we’re really getting a few kids started.”
Students were selling a variety of items at the market, from homemade wandering Jew hanging baskets, to pumpkins and even live chickens. For just $10, FFA vice-president, junior Katelyn Patane was selling Rhode Island Red chickens she raised.
“I started off with five chickens and sold two,” Patane said. “I started raising these chickens and thought selling them here would develop an SAE for me.”
Patane had many attendees interact with her chickens, but juniors Jonathan Lazo and Jasmine Stovall actually went home with two chickens of their own.
“I didn’t think they were for sale, but we really liked them and thought they were amazing” Lazo said. “We’re going to raise them as pets. My mom is actually from El Salvador. She raised chickens and cows, so she can help us.”
Gowan hopes to grow the market each semester by collaborating with feeder elementary schools and partnering with some of the vendors from the Irving, Grand Prairie and Dallas Farmers Markets.
“Their markets are so big, it’s hard to convince them to come here when we’re so small. I think with time, we’ll be able to establish our farmers market and get more people here,” Gowan said. “We’ve grown from last year, and I think it will continue to grow with years to come. Eventually our goal is to have the whole market be half vendors and half AG kids selling their products.”