Sporting neat white aprons, fourth-grade student Cameron Shull and sixth-grade student Jack proudly stood behind a table of lettuce, kale, and fava beans at yesterday's first Farmers' Market of 2011 in Half Moon Bay.
The boys had reason to be proud: After working every Wednesday throughout the growing season to tend the garden at Half Moon Bay's as students participating in the Health, Environment, Agriculture, and Learning (HEAL) program, yesterday's market marked yet another success for the young farmers. HEAL is the first student program to be certified as farmers' market growers in California.
"We started today with 105 pounds of fava beans, and now we only have a few bags left," said Jack, a student who has been growing vegetables with HEAL for four years. Jack has also been selling at the Half Moon Bay for three out of the four years.
Shull and Jack were suppported at the booth by HEAL Executive Director Kim Borick and other adult volunteers, including Shull's mother Lisa.
"It's easier [at the dinner table]," Lisa said of her 10-year-old son. "He likes rainbow chard and swiss chard and was eager to try other vegetables. Now he says 'I know that, I've seen that,'" she said, referring to vegetables grown at Hatch and on the 2.5 acres of donated land from Dave Lea at Cabrillo Farms in Moss Beach. The students have been tending crops at the farm since last summer and learning about plant and earth science, soil and water conservation, and about food systems and agriculture along the way. A HEAL garden on the Cunha campus is also in the works, according to Borick.
"It's been an excellent experience for him, learning about new veggies, compost and working on a farm," Lisa said in regards to Cameron's foray into gardening and agriculture with HEAL.
"He even adopted a Roly Poly worm from the farm," Lisa said, "that now lives next to a bush in our front yard."
"I named him Nigel," Shull said, smiling.
Jack also said that the program has affected him. "I found it easier to try new things," he said, when asked if he has been changed by HEAL in any way. "I feel like I'm doing something special that most kids aren't doing," he said.
Jack also discovered that he has a favorite vegetable.
"I like lettuce," he said. "It's something really easy and you can eat it raw."