Clovis East FFA Holds Farmers Market at New Ag Center

Students stand behind one of their tables set up for their farmers market on Thursday. Students were selling strawberries, artichokes, and lettuce. (Photo by J.T. Gomez/Clovis Roundup)

At the McFarlane-Coffman Agriculture Center, the FFA held its weekly farmers market.

This week, FFA students chose to sell strawberries, artichokes, and lettuce as their fresh produce options, grown and catered to by the students themselves. 

Steve Gambril, Agriculture Teacher and overseer of the Plant Science pathway at Clovis East High School acknowledged that he helped create the farmers market in 2010 and has been working with students at the farmers market ever since.

“Since 2010, we’d been going to the farmers market in Old Town. And the kids love going there and selling the stuff.”

Gambril explained that the trees planted in 2006 came into fruition in 2010 and ever since then has the FFA been selling to the community of Clovis. 

Gambril went on to speak about the new facility at the McFarlane-Coffman Ag Center. “Our goal when we designed it and got this grant to build this building, we wanted a farmers market, facing Gettysburg.”

The neighborhood on Gettysburg and Leonard avenues is the perfect area of opportunity to sell to customers according to multiple staff and leaders at Clovis East. “This is our community, and they see what we’re doing,” said Gambril when speaking about possibly having an open communication with the community on how they produce their yield.

He hopes to have posters on the outside fence of the Ag Center in order to educate and inform on the production of their crops. This would also assist in starting a dialogue between students and customers to “begin an outreach” as he calls it. 

Gambril continued on the new building at the McFarlane-Coffman Agriculture Center: “It’s kind of a dream for all of us as teachers. And what we want kids to learn and people to see is production agriculture.”

Gambril cites the food science lab and the opportunity it presents through different forms of food production such as preserving fruits into jams or freeze drying products. “That’s kind of one of the final goals of what I envisioned.

Taking our raw products that were perishable, minimally processing them, and then repackaging them and giving them back to our district.” 

Being able to work at the farmers market has done wonders for his students in the FFA according to Gambril.

The thought behind this is that the farmers market involves the students in the community, and allows students to build on their “soft skills” as Gambril calls them.

Being able to speak with adults about their produce, and getting to have a discussion is something that the kids involved love to do. “Where are they gonna get that any other place?”, Gambril exclaimed when speaking about the opportunity the farmers market presents for his students. 

A second major attribute of having the farmers market according to Gambril involves educating the community as a whole. ”It connects everybody with agriculture. So they realize where their food’s coming from and what healthy eating and fresh products should taste like.”

Gambril finished by stating how else the community can give their general support to the FFA.

“Everywhere from the county fair, purchasing animals the kids raise to ag mechanic projects that they display at the fair…We have fundraisers and drive thru dinners, there’s a lot of opportunities where people can help out.” 

The Farmers Market will hold future dates and will now take place in front of the Mcfarlane-Coffman Agriculture Center at Clovis East High School. The FFA accepts cash and Venmo payments.

JT is a recent college grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is mainly interested in sports and entertainment but covers a wide array of subjects. He currently writes for the Fresno State Baseball Dugout Club. JT looks forward to continuing his career at the Clovis Roundup and is excited to be working closely with a community that is very proud of its people.