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Farmers Markets Springing Up at West Hartford Elementary Schools

Six schools held farmers markets on Thursday afternoon, offering fresh produce and plants, as well as locally baked bread.

It all started at , but like a weed, the farmers market movement has spread to other elementary schools in West Hartford.

Norfeldt hosted its very successful farmer's market for the fourth time in the past two years at the end of Thursday's school day. The entire effort was organized by the students on Norfedt's "Green Team" and featured local produce (greens and strawberries) as well as seedlings, baguettes from , and fresh pesto courtesy of Chef Scott Miller of .

There are so many kids on Norfeldt's Green Team – close to 200 – that they are separated into different committees, including a planting committee for the school garden and the farmer's market committee.

The team meets before school, at 7:45 a.m., and they research nutrition, wholesale vs. retail food sale, and local agriculture, said Alicia Brown, a parent volunteer.

Brown said that Norfeldt's experience with hosting a farmer's market helped pave the way for the other elementary schools — , , , , and — by developing relationships and using their collective buying power with local farmers like Urban Oaks in New Britain, Starlight Gardens in Durham, and Pell Farms in Somers.

"It's a very nice sense of community. The kids get excited about the farmers market," Brown said.

Across town, Bugbee also had a great experience with Thursday's farmer's market.

Chef Hunter Morton from Max Downtown helped out at Bugbee, and he made a homade pesto that could be sampled on baguettes baked by .

"We also enlisted the help of the children (3rd and 4th graders) to do all the selling and bagging with the parents making the change! The kindergarteners and 1st graders were doing arts and crafts and the 5th graders discussed and sold seedlings with customers," said parent organizer Karen Sack.

Bugbee's market was set up next to the new Bugbee Garden that was built this spring. They have also formed a garden committee.

"We are trying to show the children what 'keepin’ it local' is all about," Sack said.

, and plants and flowers donated by families and local businesses that are already thriving will be cared for by students and their families over the summer. The garden includes tomatoes, peppers, basil, beans, eggplant, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber, and strawberries.

They are raising money to build a shed to store materials they need to create an outdoor classroom.

"In two short years we've made a lot of progrees," Brown said.

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