YouthCity and Liberty Park Farmers Market
From farm to table … to YouTube. That’s what students at YouthCity’s summer and after school program have started through an ongoing partnership with neighboring Liberty Park Farmers Market.
“With the farmers market so close, it just made sense to use it as a learning opportunity,” says John Lyman, program manager for YouthCity in Liberty Park, one of five locations for the Salt Lake City government program.
Hands on YouTube
Last summer, the YouthCity students, ages 8-14, began venturing to the Liberty Park Farmers Market. Students interviewed the farmers, makers and market organizers on camera about their work and then shared their findings on social media, including YouthCity’s YouTube channel. The students also took produce from the market back to the YouthCity building in the park to experiment with healthy cooking in a format reminiscent of the TV show “Chopped.”
“One of the things that I value and want is for kids, as they’re growing up in this world of exponential technology, to be content creators, not just content consumers,” explains Lyman. “We started messing around with live streaming. We discovered through trial and error…a really easy way to produce live content similar to the things that I was watching when I was growing up on PBS, like “3-2-1 Contact”—kids teaching stuff to kids.”
Lyman has seen both their confidence speaking on camera and familiarity with farm-fresh produce grow with each broadcast and visit to the market.
A Healthy Education
“On Fridays, at the end of the day, parents come and pick up the kids, not at the building, but at the market, because it’s a way to get them there and stay there,” says Lyman.
It’s a culture that’s in line with Liberty Park Farmers Market’s own mission of building relationships and educating all ages on healthy eating. Their Market Buds program provides kid-friendly activities designed to engage kids under 12 in the local food system, and an opportunity to earn Produce Bucks—vouchers for fruits and vegetables sponsored by the Intermountain LDS Hospital.
“When it comes to healthy eating for kids, the Liberty Park Market builds an important connection beyond the food,” says Annette Shade-Accarrino, a market organizer. “More than the food, the Liberty Park Market is about community. Our focus at the market is about getting to know our local food friends—the farmers who grow our food; the neighbors who shop there; and the fresh foods that the changing seasons bring.”
Thanks to a $25,000 grant from National Recreation and Park Association, through their “Commit to Health” campaign, YouthCity was able to take additional steps to increase healthy eating opportunities for its students. At the Liberty Park location, that meant a new kitchen with increased cooking capabilities for the students.
It also brought about the Healthy Harvest event, which celebrated its second season on Aug. 30. All five YouthCity locations and their families got together for a cooking competition using produce from the farmers market.
The NRPA has since awarded YouthCity a gold standard for its work with the farmers market.
“It’s amazing for me to see their excitement about eating healthy food when they have access to it; they are taught how to prepare it and when they are given the resources to try new things,” says Lyman.