Contact: Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606; Olivia Parry, Dane County Planning and Development (608) 266-4270
Kids to Showcase Goods at South Madison Farmer’s Market this Weekend
Fast food service, newspaper delivery, or grocery store clerk. These are the kinds of summer jobs typically available to Madison area teens. But, this summer was far from typical for nine Madison area youth who literally built a business from the ground up while participating in the Program for Entrepreneurial and Agricultural Training (PEAT).
Led by Robert Pierce, longtime organic farmer and manager of the South Madison Farmers Market, the youth prepared, planted, cultivated and harvested fruits and vegetables from a two-acre farm in South Madison leased to Pierce by the City of Madison. In August, the youth created a business enterprise and are now selling their produce to Madison residents at the South Madison Farmers Market.
Dane County, in partnership with Pierce, Community Action Coalition for South Central WI, Inc. (CAC), and Common Wealth Development, created and launched the program in late spring 2009. Greta Hansen, CAC Executive Director, commented, “These kinds of collaborations benefit so many more people than just the participants. They engage the larger community in supporting a stronger future for young people.”
“This program is designed to help teach youth about running their own business and doing it well”, said Robert Pierce. “It’s not only giving them a job and a source of money but also shows them the importance of growing and eating fresh, nutritious food. We hope to expand this program and make it available to more kids next year and into the future.”
“These kids are learning valuable skills and life lessons from such dedicated and experienced community leaders”, said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “This is yet another example of what we can accomplish together with a great idea and a lot of hard work. Dane County is proud to be a partner on this innovative project.“
This year’s participants learned not only crop planning and cultivation, but also essential skills for job seeking and successful employment, and how to set up and run a business, including budgeting, sales, and marketing. Common Wealth Development provided a talented team of staff with expertise in youth employment training, as well as project oversight. Dane County provided leadership on program and curriculum development.
Community Action Coalition for South Central WI, Inc. invested federal stimulus funding for the project through special Community Services Block Grant funds.
PEAT seeks to build on other successful urban farming programs like those run by Growing Power, Inc., and ACORN, in Milwaukee, by emphasizing employment skills and entrepreneurial training for area teens.
If you would like to try out some of PEAT’s delicious offerings and support youth enterprise, please visit the South Madison Farmers’ Market, South Park Street, on the Labor Temple Grounds every Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.