What is sprouts?

Sprouts is a children’s program that was launched at the Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market in 2013 for children between the ages of 4 &12.  The goals of the Sprouts program are to empower children to make good nutritional choices, and to experiment with the diversity of produce available at a local farmers’ market, while supporting our local farmers and learning about the importance of local economies. Children report back in to us on their purchases, giving our volunteers a wonderful opportunity to dialogue with the children about health and nutrition, validate their choices, and support parents who are attempting to raise their children in nutritionally mindful ways.

What can my child spend her Sprouts token on?

Children can spend their tokens on fruit, vegetables and food plants (like herbs, tomato plants and edible flowers) We encourage you to talk to your Sprout about the importance of variety in a well-rounded diet and encourage him or her to experiment with new vegetables through the Sprouts program.

What are the goals of the Sprouts recipes?

The goals of the recipes that support this Sprouts program are to get children involved in cooking at home, get them familiar with very simple cooking techniques, and help them have fun with their food while experimenting with less familiar vegetables. Its ultimate aim is to connect children with their food: understand where it comes from, what seasonality is, what local food is, and to increase their skill-set so that they can easily prepare simple, nutritious meals for themselves and their families.

Who made the recipes? Where are they from?

Our 2016 recipes were made by a long-time SWEFM volunteer, Sheri Hendsbee, with the help of nutrition student volunteers from the ALES (Agriculture Life & Environmental Sciences) Faculty at the University of Alberta. Each recipe is designed to be healthy, nutritious and simple to follow and feature a fruit or vegetable that is available at the market and in season. A powerful educating tool, each recipe:

  • Gives a nutrition tip that features something, from a health and nutritionally standpoint,  that the seasonal featured veg offers the child,
  • Gives a Sprouting Chef’s Tip that teaches a child new to the home kitchen a simple cooking technique, like how to peel a hard squash, or how to steam vegetables,
  • Gives a Creative Cooks Tip that steps up the complexity of the recipe for more experienced home cooks, introducing ingredient substitutions or garnishing techniques, and
  • Is written in a way that makes its info and instructions accessible to children (simple to follow, have fun names, have no “meanwhile” steps and a be more mis en scene style of cooking)

Why can't my 3 1/2  year old participate?

We work exceptionally hard to get the sponsorships that we do get to run the Sprouts program, so that we can keep it open to all children between the ages of 4 & 12. If we opened the age category up any wider, we’d be in jeopardy of no longer being able to run the program the way we do, and be forced to return to a capped registration, the way we did in its opening year.  Please respect the parameters we’ve placed around the program and encourage your toddler to anticipate the fun he or she will have when he or she turns 4.

Why is there only one recipe card per family rather than per child?

Because we have a finite amount of sponsorship money available, we want to have as many children participate with the token program as possible. Keeping our printing costs down is one way to funnel more money back into the value of the tokens themselves, allowing us to keep the program open to all children, and allowing it to run for the entire market season.

You've run out of recipe cards today. How can my child participate and get this week's recipe?

You're in luck! Click here for an archive of past and present Sprouts recipes.

My child bought eggs Previously with their tokens. Why can't they purchase them with their tokens now?

The goal of the Sprouts program is to encourage children to try fruits and vegetables! We allowed eggs to be purchased during the 2015 season before the fruit vendors came to market to increase the variety of products children could purchase, but we are lucky in 2016 to have fruit vendors all year. 

Where does the money for Sprouts come from?

Sprouts is funded entirely from sponsorships and grants. Our sponsors are local businesses and community leagues that believe in the quality educational nutrition programming that we are doing at the market.