Franklin Farmers Market Educational Foundation By Rachel Holder

Although the Franklin Farmers Market already offers quality educational programming for children, organizers recently saw a need for even more widespread agricultural education in Williamson County. From this need comes the Franklin Farmers Market Educational Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation with the goal of creating a greater understanding of agriculture, farming, the environment, and the value of eating fresh, local foods.

“Weâ€TMre hoping that the new foundation will give the public the opportunity to learn about things like childhood obesity, nutrition, and health, and how it relates to their families,” says Lisa Tidwell, Creative Services Director for both the foundation and the farmersâ€TM market. “We also want to teach people how local food can be sourced for school meals and about the impact agriculture has on our community.”

One of the programs now falling under the foundationâ€TMs umbrella is the “Growing Kids Educational Garden Program,” which is in its third year. A partnership between the Franklin Farmers Market and the City of Franklin Parks and Recreation Department, the Growing Kids program offers children an “edible education,” showing them first hand where their food comes from, and teaching them the value of fresh food for their bodies. The program takes place at Harlinsdale Farm, where a half- acre is dedicated to the garden project. Some of the students even sell their produce at the Franklin Farmers Market, giving them a full taste of the farming experience.

“We find that kids are much more likely to taste a new food if theyâ€TMve grown it themselves,” says Tidwell. “In addition to growing their own food, kids in the program take part in hands- on classes. For example, last year we had a bee farmer come with bees, a real bee keeper suit, and even honey to sample.”

A new program the foundation is overseeing partners the Williamson County Health Department with the Franklin Special Schools District MAC (morning and afternoon childcare) Program to combat childhood obesity. The children and parents involved with the MAC program will be challenged to eat more fresh vegetables through a growing initiative that also incorporates both math and science.

For more information on the Franklin Farmers Market Educational Foundation or the programs offered, visit franklinfarmersmarket.com.