JACKSON, Miss.- Jackson State University (JSU) Department of Community Engagement in partnership with Blackburn Middle School held their second annual student led farmer’s market on Friday, May 20. Sixteen Blackburn scholars participated in the program, which was created to provide young students with entrepreneurial skills.
During the event, the students raised more than $600 dollars in just two hours. The students have tended the community garden throughout the 2021 – 2022 school year during various planting seasons to grow a wide variety of produce.
“They are learning the farm-to-table concept, from understanding about compost to recycling and good customer service,” says Leslie Duvernay, interventionist at Blackburn Middle School. “We’re trying to teach the children how to communicate effectively, be respectful and well-rounded. They’re over there cashiering, counting money, bagging the groceries, and helping carry bags and boxes to the cars.”
Duvernay say the students enjoy the experience and have the choice to decide how they will spend the money. The students may divide the proceeds among themselves or use the money to plan a celebration with their peers. The student-led farmer’s market is intended to teach the students the importance of community, responsibility, and financial literacy. Before the middle schoolers could open shop, they had to undergo an entrepreneur class instructed by members of the JSU community engagement department.
“This is an opportunity to get the kids out of the classroom so they can begin learning entrepreneurship,” explains Khaliya Ervin, department of community engagement. “They can learn how to make a sell and that you can grow things to make a profit from it.”
Mustard greens, collard greens, onions, apples, oranges, squashes, cabbage, zucchini and more were available for purchase. JSU and Blackburn Middle School have been growing the community garden on West Pearl St for approximately five years. However, the annual student-led farmers market was on a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several members of Jackson State’s faculty and staff attended the event to show support for the young students, including President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., and Provost Alisa Mosley, Ph.D. The two institutions would like to thank Central Mississippi Health services and Chef Nick Wallace for their contributions to make the event a success.