Birthday Soup Contenders: Kids’ Farm Stand Fund

Our 1st Annual Birthday Soup is fast approaching! SoupGrant Lansing will be celebrating turning a year old before you know it!

As we talked about marking our birthday, we decided that we would like to bring back some past winners. We regularly try to bring back past winners to talk about what they have been able to accomplish since winning SoupGrant, but we wanted to take it a step further by giving them the chance to compete for a second SoupGrant. Back in June, we sent out e-mails, and Tweets and Facebook posts letting past winners know that they could re-apply. We had decided to limit the number of contestants to three and we received word from three past winners letting us know that they were interested!

As we approach August 21, we want to take a look at our returning contestants. Last week we put the spotlight on The Food Systems Project. This week, we’re taking a closer look at the Kids’ Farm Stand Fund. Next week, we’ll highlight D.A.N.C.E.

Kids Farm Stand Fund

Describe your project. 

Aliza: We are a grant-funded garden based nutrition education program that partners with Lansing area schools to provide quality, effective nutrition education programming for elementary aged students (5-12 years old).  We work with over 1,000 students each year to promote healthy habits and food choices by facilitating hands-on gardening and cooking lessons. In keeping with our hands-on philosophy, we also maintain four educational gardens on the properties of our four partner schools. These gardens are a source of pride and beauty for our students and also allow them to see firsthand how their food is grown.

Much of the produce grown in our gardens is used in our cooking lessons with the kids,  but all surplus produce is sold at the West Side Farmers’ Market and the profits generated are put back into the program. This year we have begun inviting some of our oldest and most invested garden club students to help run our farm stand. This provides many wonderful opportunities for them to learn about their local food system as well as to  gain entrepreneurial insight and effective communication skills. The kids are very enthusiastic and eager to contribute. In the past season we have helped them to brainstorm ideas for new products to sell, including hand-crafted bracelets and healthful baked goods.

Unfortunately, however we are limited in what we can do as our grant does not allow us to purchase materials for these projects. If awarded this SoupGrant we hope to create a Youth Entrepreneur Farmer’s Market Fund. This fund would allow us to purchase materials so that we  are able to continue facilitating these educationally valuable projects with our students.

How will you use the money from your SoupGrant? 

Aliza: Money will be spent directly on supplies so that we can make value added products with our students to sell at market. For our students to truly be invested in this project, it is important that these experiences be kid-directed. For this reason, we will brainstorm with them what they are the most interested in learning how to make and sell. So for instance, if we decide that we are most interested in learning more about jam-making, this money will go to buy berries, sugar, cans and other supplies needed. Money made on sales of these products will go back into the Youth Entrepreneur Farm Market Fund for future projects.

Why is this project important?

Aliza: This project is important because it benefits our community on many levels. It will give our students the opportunity to learn and hone important life skills, such as jam making, baking, money management, product promotion, business etiquette, etc. Moreover, it will expand their perspective of our food system and allow them to observe and contribute to it at a wide range of stages–from seed to table. It will also help to provide more affordable, healthful and ethically produced products to market shoppers and area residents.

What is the time frame for your project? Who/how will you be accountable? 

Aliza: The Farmer’s Market runs through October, so we would use some of these funds to produce products to sell during the current season. We program year round and will continue to build and strengthen relationships with students so that when next year’s season rolls in we will have a core group of committed students to continue these projects  at next years market.

Tell us about yourself!

Aliza: I am a Nutrition Educator at the North West Initiative, and boy do I love my job!! I have been passionate about food access and education since I was a high school student. I am committed to helping to create a positive learning environment for young people, where mistakes are just opportunities for growth and classrooms aren’t always inside! I have a big goofy dog named Arlo.


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