Las Vegas Sun

April 21, 2024

Figs here, cucumbers there: Student farmers market brings the goods in Las Vegas

Student Farmers Market

Wade Vandervort

Willow, 10, from Goynes Elementary School sells pomegranates during Green Our Planets Giant Student Farmers Market at the Clark County Government Center, downtown, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.

Student Farmers Market

Various vegetables are displayed for sale during Green Our Planets Giant Student Farmers Market at the Clark County Government Center, downtown, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Launch slideshow »

Treasure hunters could go from booth to booth at the student-run farmers market Thursday to find not just ever-popular basil, okra and pomegranates by the bushel, but something that made every crew stand out.

Goolsby Elementary sold figs for a dime. Dickey Elementary had huge Armenian cucumbers. Abston Elementary sold garden art, including a concrete sphere that the principal hand-painted like an eye. Keller Elementary had a hustle like no other: selfies with one of their garden pets, an agreeable young desert tortoise named Hatch, who was placed in a carrier for the field trip. 

The semiannual market, billed by its sponsor — the nonprofit Green Our Planet — as the largest student-run farmers market in the nation, offered fruits, vegetables, herbs, flower bouquets and crafts from greeting cards and garden stakes to insect habitats and painted flower pots. Spirited students from about 30 Clark County School District schools lined the curving walkway wrapping around the amphitheater at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas. It was a long corridor of sweet and earthy scents, with kids finding the best ways to get shoppers’ attention – a few girls from Josh Stevens Elementary, in matching shirts, formed up in a cheerleading squad. Other schools paraded down the aisle holding herbs over their heads. Sierra Vista High students wore matching autumnal crowns made of faux maple leaves.

Students not only applied horticultural, artistic and retail skills, but the soft skill of one-on-one customer service.

“Who doesn’t love dill? You can use it for all kinds of things,” said Trenton, a Becker Middle eighth-grader as he sold a bundle of the fragrant herb while wearing an orange sticky note on his shirt noting his position as “sales lead.”

Trenton is in the Becker garden club, where he can dig in the dirt like he can on his grandfather's farm in Missouri. Many of the booths displayed garden club signs, and proceeds will be reinvested in campus gardens.

Dooley Elementary cleared at least $100 in sales as it cleaned out much of its diverse harvest, to the approval of fifth-grade teacher Erik Smith. He noted that nobody else at the market had melons, so theirs didn’t last long – the Crenshaw and casaba honeydews and bright yellow canary melons were easy sales. 

Midway through the market one of Smith’s students went to refresh their stock and found a single small but perfectly formed butternut squash – the only one that survived a squash bug infestation. It was another only-at-Dooley item. Students chirping out “Pomegranates! Ladybug rocks!!” to passersby paused, then one piped up, “Three dollars! Butternut squash!”

Fernanda, 10, gregariously popped into the aisle of shoppers with paper bags of jujube fruits from the shrubby trees that grow in the Wynn Elementary garden. Only a couple of schools had jujubes, which are fibrous, pitted fruits that resemble dates.

“They’re like little apples, but more sweet,” Fernanda said. “The browner the better.”