Lennox Island farmers' market run entirely by youth to launch in August

A new farmers' market run entirely by youth is slated to open in Lennox Island later this summer.

Youth will learn entrepreneurial and gardening skills as part of pilot program

A farmers' market run by Indigenous youth will open in Lennox Island next month. (Moira Donovan/CBC)

A new farmers' market run entirely by Indigenous youth is slated to open in Lennox Island, P.E.I., later this summer.

The market will be the culmination of a six-week pilot program meant to teach Indigenous youth entrepreneurial and gardening skills. 

The pilot is the result of a partnership between the Ulnooweg Education Centre, an organization that delivers educational programs for Indigenous communities, and the Lennox Island Greenhouse.

"The youth have class time where they're learning about things like financial literacy," said Kayla Cruikshank, the market's coordinator.

"They get to work in the garden and plant their own garden plots and eventually, you know, host the youth farmers' market."

Participants will assist a series of workshops with community members who are business owners, where they will learn entrepreneurial skills, good dietary habits and about issues such as food security.

The project also has a cultural component, with some workshops dedicated to the Mi'kmaw worldview, bead-making, and basket-weaving.

"It's just to get them connected with ... business and just being more involved in community and looking at different ventures," said Jocelyn Marshall, Ulnooweg's Indigenous culture and community engagement officer.

"We hope to eventually empower the community, to take this and champion it."

The market is set to open in August. Organizers will be travelling to Summerside to draw some inspiration from that city's farmers' market.

"In my community, I find the farmer's market is almost like the heart. You know, everybody goes and you see friends, you see family, you build community, you build local businesses," said Dawn Matheson, a project coordinator at the centre.

"It's also a meeting place, a social place. And I think this one in Lennox Island, I'd love to see it be a place for the community to gather, you know? Like the heart of the community."

The program is still looking for participants who are Indigenous youth ages 12 and older.

"Everything else in the world's future, it relies on our youth that we have today," Matheson said. "So we might as well just create the space, the safe space for them to be able to grow and be creative and be successful."

With files from Island Morning