Young entrepreneurs host pop-up farmers market on West Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of young entrepreneurs planted and cared for an organic garden in Chicago's Austin community. And now they are reaping the benefits of their hard work.

On Tuesday, the group learned about the business side of selling their vegetables with a pop-up farmers market on the West Side.

"It wakes me up in the morning and helps me work and not do bad things or just be walking on the streets," said Markell Staples, 11.

Staples is one of about a dozen inner-city kids who hosted the market as part of a summer program, sponsored by Mercy Housing Lakefront, an affordable housing nonprofit organization.

The students, who range from grade schoolers to teenagers, spent the summer tending to the community garden, which has been in the Austin neighborhood for 10 years.

They learned to plant and harvest organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

"Running the garden is actually an arduous task and so they've learned how to manage the beds so each is assigned a bed to care for," said Dominique Davis, program coordinator.

The idea is to use gardening to teach kids leadership and life skills, like being on time and teamwork, while helping them learn about business and entrepreneurship.

"Whatever I do rubs off on them," said Antwainay Binion, a garden leader. "So if I work hard, they're going to work hard."

"We learned to be confident in ourselves, believe in ourselves and keep trying whatever you're doing," said gardener Anthony Bryant.

The market runs one more week, but the community garden will operate until September.

"It was so fun, I hope it happens again next summer," Staples said.
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