Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Default]

Youth Farmstand Program


NJAES - Youth Farmstand Website (All NJ Locations)

What is the Youth Farmstand Program?Farmstand Students

The Youth Farmstand Program is an interdisciplinary, multi-faceted program designed to support local farmers, increase workforce readiness skills and life skills in at-risk youth and build healthier, stronger communities.

How does one program do all that?

Synergy! Youth operated farmstands are the centerpiece of this program. They provide a unifying framework for youth, farmers & communities to achieve success. Each needs the others' support to grow and prosper, so everyone wins!

Who benefits the most?

That's a tough question, because this program increases opportunities for all targeted groups. The following outcomes are expected.

Youth will increase:

  • Workforce readiness skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills & attitudes
  • Knowledge of agriculture & food systems components & processes
  • Awareness of entrepreneurial & employment pathways available in agriculture

Local farmers will:

  • Open new markets
  • Increase sales via distribution and Jersey Fresh promotion
  • Identify specialty or "niche" markets within local communities
  • Have access to pool of "certified" farmstand workers via youth completing program

Communities will:

  • Have access to affordable, high-quality produce in convenient locations
  • Increase redemption rates of WIC & Senior Farmers Market Vouchers
  • Expand "work ready" labor pool
  • Increase tax base

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How do Youth Farmstands "work" for youth?

The youth farmstands provide a hands-on entrepreneurial experience to youth in the mechanics of owning and operating a small business, based on the premise that experience really is the best teacher. There are three (3) major components: pre-farmstand training, farmstand operations, and weekly supplemental activities and experiences.

1. Youth participate in a week long intensive (and fun!) training prior to the farmstand opening. Topics include:

  • customer service
  • cash register operation
  • produce identification
  • Jersey Fresh
  • WIC and Senior Farmers Market vouchers
  • making change
  • marketing
  • nutrition
  • weights and measures
  • farmstand safety
  • workplace expectations
  • purchasing & inventory

2. Youth operate the farmstands throughout the summer months for an hourly wage. Participants are primarily responsible for management decisions (purchasing, pricing, display, etc.) and are eligible for a share of any profits at the end of the season.

Each farmstand is overseen by an adult supervisor. These individuals are called "instructors" to emphasize their role in the learning process.

3. The supplemental activities and experiences provided youth during the farmstand season include weekly education sessions. Topics include:

  • agriculture and food systems
  • career planning
  • entrepreneurship opportunities
  • character education
  • goal-setting & decision-making
  • resume writing and interviewing

Speakers and agriculture-related field trips are also part of the educational experience during the season.

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How do youth feel about their experiences?

Youth participants continue to express strong positive feelings about the program. They enjoy the training, operating the farmstands and the speakers and field trips.

Are you achieving your expected outcomes?

Yes! We have created several assessment instruments to triangulate results for youth, farmers and communities.

  • Youth demonstrate increased workforce readiness skills and attitudes at the close of the selling season.
  • Youth participants earn a share of the profits based upon stand sales and hours worked.
  • Suppliers are satisfied with the program, eager to learn how to access local niche markets and looked forward to broadening our relationships.
  • Over 3000 customers in economically disadvantaged areas purchase thousands of dollars of Jersey Fresh produce from the Youth Farmstands each year.
  • Individual sites report that up to 80% of their customers were low income and/or elderly.
  • Community residents report increased access to fresh, quality produce, and that they understood (and felt good about) their contribution towards supporting local farmers and youth workforce readiness training.
  • The majority of customers who redeem WIC or Senior Farmers Market vouchers reporte using vouchers exclusively at the farmstands, and over one-third indicate they had no other accessible outlet for voucher redemption.
  • For an in-depth report see the 2004 Youth Farmstand Impact Statement.

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What's in the future?

The complete integration of the New Jersey Experiment Station, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and Cook Campus (Rutgers University) is the most exciting component on the drawing board. Development of a "Youth Farmstand Management" course is being explored as a means for undergraduates to learn about farmstand and farmers' market operations, positive youth development and experiential education.

Cook Campus students under the leadership of the Rutgers Gardens have developed a "Rutgers Gardens Farmer's Market"

Rutgers Gardens

to serve on-campus student needs for fresh, Jersey Grown items. The market may serve as an ideal opportunity for Cook students in the Farmstand Management course to receive hands-on training. Students completing the course and training will form a pool of eligible "instructors" to supervise the Youth Farmstands across the state.

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This sounds like a great program! Do I have to live in New Jersey to participate?

Absolutely not! We will soon accept applications from groups/organizations interested in piloting the program in other areas. We'll provide sites with a Youth Farmstand in a Crate start-up kit, which will include operations manuals (program coordinator, instructor & youth), youth and instructor educational materials, assessment instruments, etc. We will partner with Cooperative Extension offices across the U.S. to deliver this multi-faceted program.

How can I learn more?
If you want to collaborate with us, are interested in piloting the program in your area or simply want to learn more please E-Mail T.E.E.M. Gateway today!