Food Literacy Hero: The Sacramento Certified Farmers’ Market
We are thrilled to bestow the title of Food Literacy Hero to Certified Farmers’ Markets for its field trip program that combines exciting hands-on
The field trip program began with the “Best” intention to educate children about farm life. Dan and Renae Best, who have been managing the Certified Farmers’ Market of Sacramento since 1981, used to have a farm along the American river called “For the Birds Farm” with an extensive farm animal display, and numerous fruit trees and grape vines. They started the field trip program in May 1996 with 4th graders visiting farmers markets. After the students complete the worksheets, they would earn a trip to the Best’s farm where they learned about the animals and plants there, culminating with a singing hayride around the farm. The Best family lost the farm in 1997 because the lease was renegotiated at a rate that was higher than they could afford. However, due to their commitment to food literacy education, they have continued the farmers market field trips to this day.
“Children love to learn. The excitement that occurs over fresh fruits and vegetables on our field trips by the 4th graders is something to behold,” said Renae Best, field trip educator. “Nothing makes me happier than to see the kids line up to get back on the bus with fruit in their little faces.”
To date, more than 50 area schools as well as church groups, home schoolers and Scouts have participated in the field trip program. The Certified Farmers’ Markets provide each student with worksheets on seasons, the nutritional value of foods and where foods are grown in California. They earn tokens for completing their worksheets correctly and use the tokens to shop for fruits and vegetables. The farmers are especially excited when the kids visit because they love to help them complete their worksheets and share special facts about their produce.
“When the kids earn their tokens to spend, the farmers give them super deals,” said Best. “I believe it makes everyone on both sides of the tables feel good.”
The field trips are not only enlightening for the children, they also have a positive impact on parents and teachers. One of the biggest lessons during the field trip is to stress the importance of eating seasonally and locally, which has opened the eyes of the adults as well. Best believes that the field trip program helps participants become better educated about California farmers and what they do to feed us every day, as well as the importance of being food literate.
“It is important to me that children learn that eating whole, in season, fruits and vegetables leads them to a healthy future,” said Best.
If you would like to make a reservation for a field trip or for more information about the program, visit Certified Farmers’ Markets.
Story by Heather Teoh