Farmer Wants to Give Kids an Alternative to Nuggets
With school back in session, farm owner is stressing the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in children's lunches.
Gaier Farms & Greenhouses, owned by John and Ann Gaier, is a true family affair with everyone pitching in.
Daughters Cheryl and Rosie and sons Johnny and Anthony work on the farm in Armada. John's sister, Linda Jones, spends her time selling a large variety of the farm’s produce at the Wyandotte Farmers Market.
Ann Gaier said variety is the spice of life and Gaier Farms provide patrons with an array of colors and produce for the eyes and taste buds. Currently, there are melons, sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, onions, garlic, squash, pickles, cabbage, peppers, radishes, carrots, beets, watermelon and more.
“We have a little bit of everything,” she said.
Since it’s time for students to go back to school and healthy lunches are on parents' minds, Gaier said selling at farmers markets gives her workers an opportunity to educate people about produce, how it’s grown and where it comes from.
“The younger generation doesn’t cook or doesn’t know how,” she said. “We have many small sales, not the volume like we used to, because people just aren’t canning like they used to.”
However, with no chemicals used on their produce, it gives the family an opportunity to talk to others and spread the word about healthier choices.
Gaier said that her sister-in-law, Jones, is a retired teacher who loves working with people–a perfect fit for selling at a farmers market.
“You meet people from all over,” she said.
When it comes to school lunches, Gaier said it’s essential for children to have fresh vegetables in their diets. Even if fresh, cut-up vegetables were available for children, Gaier thinks it would make a difference.
“These things are more healthy than getting snacks out of the machine,” she said.
Gaier encourages parents to pack fresh produce in lunches for their children and serve fresh items at home. Many portable items, such as grapes, peaches, apples and pears can easily be packed in their lunches, she said.
“Children can’t just live off of hot dogs and chicken nuggets,” she said.
Also, through working at various markets, Gaier said she has been surprised at how little children know about food or where it comes from.
“Many children don’t know the difference between a cucumber or a zucchini,” she said.
That lesson, along with many more veggie tales, can be learned at the Wyandotte market, which is held weekly, from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, at the corner of First and Elm streets.
In addition to the Wyandotte market, Gaier also sells produce at farmers markets in Armada, Brownstown, New Baltimore, Port Huron, Riverview, St. Clair and Warren.