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Moving into New Territory HIS Joins Local Farmers Market

InstitutionsHolbrook Indian SchoolMoving into New Territory HIS Joins Local Farmers Market
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HIS Agricultural Director Daniel Nicholls

This school year, the agriculture program at Holbrook Indian School (HIS) has begun to move beyond the classroom toward real-world experience. HIS has started participating in the local Flagstaff farmers market, with agriculture director Daniel Nicholls introducing the school’s produce and students into new territory.

Every Sunday in Flagstaff, Arizona, large crowds of people flock to the downtown area to visit the farmers market and buy locally grown produce and other items. Vendors from as far away as Phoenix make the trip to take advantage of the crowds. With HIS less than an hour and a half away, Nicholls makes the trip with students with the goal of connecting the school with a larger community through the sale of produce.

“While the primary desire for our produce is that it goes to the cafeteria, we also sell some produce to customers off-campus,” Nicholls explained. “We have been running a small operation selling produce to families in the area for several years. This has been reasonably successful, but the opportunity to participate in the Flagstaff Community Market opens up the possibilities for selling more produce and raising awareness of our school’s mission in our community.”

The response from the Flagstaff community has thus far been positive and has introduced HIS and its mission to more people beyond the town of Holbrook. “Our presence at the market has been well received,” Nicholls said. “And many of the customers that visit the booth are happy to hear about and support our mission to serve the Native American people.”

Often, when visitors find out that the students grew the vegetables they are purchasing and that vegetables are used in the school’s cafeteria for the garden-to-plate program, they are excited to support the school. They see the value in connecting children with nature through gardening and are impressed by the way HIS offers other vocational programs as well.

While connecting the school and the community is a primary goal, Nicholls has discovered a few other benefits for the students. “Every week that students are available to come, we bring two to assist in loading, setting up, and selling the produce, providing students an opportunity to learn about customer service jobs and sales,” he said.

The market runs from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, and both students are responsible for greeting customers and answering questions about the products. “When customers ask about the school and the programs we offer, the impact of the information is far greater when given by students. It is great to see them advocating for themselves, their siblings, their friends, and their community at HIS,” said Nicholls.

The students benefit from developing a work ethic as well as practical, real-world sales experience.

It is within this outlook that Nicholls sees possibilities for incorporating the farmers market visits into the official curriculum for the agriculture program at HIS.

“Often when taking classes, it is easy for a student to see no practical application of what they are learning to their life outside of school,” he explained. “In our gardening classes at HIS, I try to help the students see the literal value in hard work. One way of doing this is going over the numbers of the cost to produce the vegetables and the price they can be sold for. The market will give even greater chances to help develop an entrepreneurial mentality and a sense of empowerment through the agriculture program.”
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By Chevon Petgrave and Daniel Nicholls

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Moving into New Territory HIS Joins Local Farmers Market

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