The market stalls were bustling with shoppers in the plaza outside the Brighouse library Tuesday morning as students from Quilchena elementary were busy selling their school-grown produce and crafts, while at the same time supporting a number of local charities.
The idea for the Young Citizens Farmers’ and Artisans Market grew from the school’s established gardening program, said Andrew Livingston, who teaches Grades 3 and 4.
“It evolved from teacher-directed gardening, which was successful in developing student ownership of the gardens,” Livingston said. “And this year, it’s taking on another twist.”
The event was also organized with the help of the Terra Nova Nature School and assistance of the City of Richmond, which set up/took down most of the tents and tables used at the market.
"This event wouldn't have been possible without the community partnership," Livingston said.
In preparation for the market day, the students in Grades 3 to 7 divided into groups and selected their own seeds for what they wanted to grow and developed their own business identities to take part and sell their goods at the market.
One of them ran with the name The Helpful Helpers and the motto “One helpful action can make a positive difference.”
“Our whole group grew the vegetables and we chose the ones to sell which were the best for a salad, because we believe everyone should get a healthy meal,” said Grade 6 student Maya Quay who was part of The Helpful Helpers, which pledged their market day proceeds from bunches of spinach, kale, seedlings and artwork to the Richmond Food Bank.
“We thought about charity and how we could help people the best; that’s why we picked the food bank,” said Shayaan Hamed, who is in Grade 7.
“We wanted to build on the school garden idea and develop more of a connection in the community,” said Kevin Vines, who teaches Grades 6 and 7 at Quilchena. “So, the students have been thoughtful about how they can take the money they earn at the market and have an impact locally.”
To accomplish that the students researched numerous local charities to see which ones they wanted to support. And they developed their businesses around the selections, adopting names and mottos in keeping with their charity.
“We’ve also spread from just growing vegetables to making products like rock art and painted canvasses,” Vines said. “Each creation is trying to promote a certain message of change.”
Vandean Ngyuen, another Grade 7 member of The Helpful Helpers, said his small paintings depicted a salad with words explaining how their business related to their charity.
To also help extend the market’s reach into the community, the school included assistance from the students’ “Grand-Pals” from nearby Gilmore Gardens Seniors’ Residence.
“They have been working on the products with the students over the course of the year and also came to the market to help support it,” Livingston said, adding there was also participation from the other end of the age spectrum with youngsters from the Terra Nova Outdoor Preschool.