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Laughlin Memorial Chapel Students Hold Youth Farmers’ Market in Wheeling

Photo by Joselyn King Taelyn Barton, left, and her mentor Tasha Carr of Americorps greet visitors attending a youth farmer’s market with produce and art grown or created by children in the Wild Farm program at Laughlin Memorial Chapel.

WHEELING — Growing up means new experiences and learning to grow things for youths in Laughlin Memorial Chapel’s Wild Farm program.

On Wednesday, the children set up their own farmers market outside the Public Market along 14th Street in downtown Wheeling, and began marketing the produce they’ve grown this summer at Grow Ohio Valley’s farm complex on 18th Street in East Wheeling.

Art was also part of the program, and among the items for sale was artwork handcrafted by the children, as well as tote bags they screen printed during a trip to the Mother Jones Center for Resilience in East Wheeling. On it was a “Kids Grow” logo they designed.

There were also bouquets of freshly cut flowers they helped to arrange early Wednesday morning.

The youths held signs on the busy street corner at 14th and Main streets inviting motorists to stop by and view their items. A crowd had already begun to gather shortly after the sale started at 10 a.m. Roma tomatoes, garlic and cucumbers were among the produce items on the table.

An art piece by 10-year-old Taelyn Barton showing purple lavender flowers was among the first items to sell, and its price was $5. The students planned to divide profits earned during the day.

“I was 30 years old when I sold my first art piece,” mentor Tasha Carr of Americorps told Barton. “You’re doing well.”

Shortly after, Carmail Harrison — also 10 — sold his first artwork, which was purchased by Wheeling City Council member Rosemary Ketchum.

Ketchum asked him which way it should be properly hung.

“It’s up to you,” he told her. “It’s your painting.”

Martha Wright of the Laughlin Chapel said there are about 12 youths who participated in the six-week “Farm Kids” program this summer, and this week is the final week.

“They planted the produce, and now it is time for its harvest,” she said.

During the program the youths learned to cook some of the items they grew, and they even tasted some items they had never eaten before, according to Wright.

They even sampled tofu, rice and kale sandwiches they helped prepare, she said.

“I enjoyed seeing the children take the foods and try them,” Wright said. “They learned a lot about food and farm-to-table.”

Laughlin Chapel partnered with Grow Ohio Valley on the program.

Hannah Hedrick, educational program manager with Grow Ohio Valley, said the program was necessary as Laughlin Chapel was looking for activities to engage older children.

“This is a really, really special group of kids,” she said. “I’ve known them for a few years now, and I’ve watched them grow.”


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