Growing, harvesting and selling fresh produce — a process so easy a kid could do it.
That’s the idea at the Soldotna Montessori School, which hosted a farmer’s market on Saturday — offering carrots, turnips, potatoes, kale and more — and all of it grown by the fourth, fifth and sixth graders at the school.
Soldotna Montessori has had a student-cultivated garden since 2016 thanks to the initiative of teacher Terri Carter. Each spring Carter’s students are out in the garden planting, and when the school year starts in fall they harvest it all and prepare it for sale. The proceeds from each year’s farmers market go toward buying the seeds for next year’s yield, potential field trips and supporting the school’s take-what-you-need, give-what-you-can food pantry. The garden also features a compost bin, so the students are able to learn about the gardening process all the way through.
The morning of the farmer’s market, the kids are in high gear setting up tents and pulling carrots. Kaitlyn Miller, a sixth grader at the school, said it can be pretty stressful.
“We only had what, two hours, to do all of this,” Miller said, pointing to the various displays of produce and baked goods.
“And we couldn’t prepare any of the produce yesterday because it was raining,” sixth grader Lauren Chirkop added.
The rain was still coming down on Friday, but the kids and vegetables were able to stay relatively dry under the tents that had been set up near the garden.
This year a selection of baked goods — pumpkin bread, banana muffins, brownies and cookies — were available for purchase as well thanks to contributions from students and parents.
There were also spider plants and violas on sale, and students were on hand to demonstrate how to cut and pot smaller spider plants from the larger ones.
Free samples of turnips and carrots were given out to tempt potential buyers, and the turnips this year were massive — one weighed over 10 pounds.
When asked what her favorite part of the gardening experience was, Miller said it was learning how to provide for the community.