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Children are the future of the market

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By Cindy DiFazio

The pickup truck with a bed full of watermelons and cantaloupes was backed up to the curb at the Henry County Farmers Market last Saturday. Its bumper sticker read “Born to Farm.”

It was Kids Day at the Farmers Market and the children representing local farms indeed seemed born to farm.

The kids offered a great variety of homegrown produce and homemade goodies. Kimberlee Hawkins, an eighth-grader at HCMS, displayed perfect little jewel-like peaches alongside her own baked goods. The pecan pie alone would have had my southern belle mother drooling and digging through her purse for pie money.

Henry County High School junior and FFA member, 16-year old Jenni Kozora had picked and packaged the blueberries from Blueberry Hill family farm that she brought to sell. The farm lived up to its name. I’ve been popping those sweet blueberries in my mouth like candy.

Kozora and the other kids seemed proud of their contributions and genuinely happy to represent their farms at the Farmers Market. Megan Hayden, a 10-year old from New Castle said that she helped plant, weed and pick her family’s crops this year. “I had a busy summer,” she said.

Henry County Farmers Market Association President Barbara Gregory said she felt the event was a great success. Close to a dozen youngsters took part. Most, admittedly, got some help from a parent or two, but isn’t sharing the work a part of the family farming experience? Eight-year old Parker Stephens, a second-grader at Cornerstone Christian Academy probably didn’t bake the chocolate chip cookies on his table, but he did pick some of the cherry tomatoes. “It’s fun to get dirty,” he said.

New Castle Mayor Judy Diederich is a frequent patron of the farmers market. She praised both kids and parents for their participation in Kids Day. “I think we should do more of these,” she said.

Diederich noted that the city’s Main Street program had provided decorations for the event.

She also said that she loves coming every week. “I just amble down here from home,” Diederich said. “You get to know everybody on a first name basis and it keeps Henry County spending in Henry County.”

Maybe participation in the FFA and projects like the Farmers Market will encourage these Henry County kids to see their future here as well.

Gregory’s granddaughters, Julia Gregory, a seventh-grader at HCMS and Sabrina Oliver, a Carrollton sixth-grader had booths offering sweet tea and sugar cookies. Julia’s t-shirt said “The Future of Farm Markets” while Sabrina’s John Deere shirt sported the words “Farm Girl.”

After graduating high school, Kozora intends to study criminal justice at the University of Louisville. She said her plans also might include helping out on the farm after college, and with two younger brothers only two and four years old at present, her help would be welcomed. Kozora also said she really likes to drive the tractor, and where else can you drive a tractor but down on the farm?

Only time will tell if these young people are farming’s future, but last weekend they were great ambassadors for farming’s present.

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com.