Farmers Markets Are for Everyone: Grow Future Food Leaders

December 2, 2022

Like you, Foodwise believes we must nurture the next generation in order to sustain and grow the farmers market community, and invest in the sustainable and equitable food future that we all need. When you donate to Foodwise, you are supporting Bay Area youth in developing skills to become the food leaders of tomorrow.

This month, Foodwise is celebrating the wisdom of community members who are contributing to this shared vision. In this new video from Foodwise, you’ll hear from graduates from our Foodwise Teens program and next-generation farmers at Foodwise farmers markets

Small family farms are facing an uncertain future like never before, from climate change to labor. The average age of a farmer is 57, which means we need to engage the next generation now more than ever. It’s critical to connect small family farms with Bay Area residents and grow our farmers market community, so local farms can thrive for generations to come. At Foodwise, we believe that farmers markets are more than just a place to shop, but a place of learning and connection, which is why we offer free education programs for eaters for all ages.

Through our Foodwise Teens program, SFUSD high school students learn about food justice, develop job skills, and get hands-on experience in the garden, in the kitchen, and at the farmers market, while getting paid for their work. Afterwards, they have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and engagement through job placements in the Foodwise Teens Summer Fellowship program. 

Recent SFUSD graduate Luzaneth Garcia started working at Oya Organics’ farmers market stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in summer 2021 as a Foodwise Teen, and over a year later, she is still working at the market. “I love working here,” Luzaneth says. “I believe it’s important for young people, especially at my age, to become food conscious. Also, you get to learn more about your community. You get to become part of your community, which I think is really important.”

“I love working here. I believe it’s important for young people, especially at my age, to become food conscious. Also, you get to learn more about your community. You get to become part of your community, which I think is really important.”

Luzaneth Garcia, Foodwise Teens Graduate

The program has benefited our farmers, too, who recognize the importance of educating young people about sustainable agriculture and caring for our planet. “It’s great to have the students from Foodwise because they help us so much in the farmers market,” says farmer Modesto Sanchez Cruz of Oya Organics. “We’re creating a good, new generation who is learning to take care of the earth, not just extracting.”

Rudy Jimenez, fourth-generation farmer at Green Thumb Farms says, “For me, food wisdom means bringing stories from our ancestors to life. People of Color, we’re always in the back of the scenes. So I feel it’s important for us to take leadership roles for the future of the food industry.” While providing jobs through Foodwise Teens, BIPOC farmers like Rudy and Modesto are also crucial role models for San Francisco youth.

Another Foodwise Teens graduate, Devin Lee has embraced his role at the farmers market, working at McGinnis Ranch for over a year. He says, “When you hear about teenage jobs, you hear about a lot of grunt work or, like, McDonald’s or somewhere horrible you don’t want to work, but here I get a really good relationship with my boss, where she lets me get any vegetables I really want, and she really takes care of me.”

A fourth-generation farmer herself, Sara Evett sees working with Devin as an opportunity to share her wisdom and farming legacy with the upcoming generation. “Devin has been great. He’s really eager to learn.” she says. “We’re here for such a short period of time that we might as well do what you can to better where we are.”

Invest in Future Food Leaders

Join Foodwise in investing in the next generation of farmers, food makers, and farmers market supporters. Together, we are creating the essential ties between youth and our local foodshed that will keep small family farms thriving for generations to come. Help us reach our end of year goal of $60,000, and donate today to nourish our farmers market community in 2023 and beyond.

Modesto Sanchez Cruz and Luzaneth Garcia at the Oya Organics stand in the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

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