By Nancy Gutierrez
You're never too young to start your own business.
Just ask Audrey, Victoria, Noah and Allison Martinez. They decided to grow their own vegetables to sell at the Farmers Market in Sweet Brier and they are all under 10 years old.
"They got the idea from going to the farmers market, they love to go," Shawnee Martinez said. She is the mother to the three girls and aunt to Noah.
In March the children bought starter plants to plant in a garden that their grandpa created for them.
"We helped GunGun take out the grass," Audrey, 5, said. GunGun is their special name for their grandfather, Raul Martinez.
GunGun made the garden on a patch of grass in the backyard. He ripped out the fescue and made furrows in the rich soil. The children then planted zucchini, cucumber, yellow squash, tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers and green onions that they got from Save mart. Already the Martinez kids have used the strawberries as toppings for pancakes and cakes, and have picked some bell peppers and zucchini.
"The green onions we can use to make dip for chips," Victoria, 9, said while sister Audrey pulled up a bulb from the ground.
"Somebody else hold it it's yucky," Audrey said.
The garden will soon have mandarin trees, courtesy of 7-year-old Noah's parents. Shawnee said the kids work from a half hour to an hour on the garden just about every day. They have to check for weeds or any other pests that may invade their crops. But they all seem to like being out in their garden.
"The onions dance when the wind blows," Allison, 7, said.
Shawnee said if they get into trouble instead of sending them out to pull weeds their punishment is that they don't get to work in the garden. She said the kids have looked up the different varieties of squash they can plant and have planted. They also get free lessons on vegetables from their uncle, Frank Martinez, who works in the produce department at Save Mart.
"They're learning responsibility," said their grandmother Pam Martinez. "They know if they don't take care of the plants they will die."
In a few weeks the fruit and vegetables will be ready for market. Shawnee said that since they are all in the Dual Immersion program at Washington Elementary School they will be able to speak to customers in English and Spanish. Dual Immersion is an educational program that teaches students fluency in two languages. They've learned the Spanish names of their vegetables and fruit, and they know how to ask customers if they want to buy their produce.
"Quieres comprar unos vegtable?" Allison demonstrated.
"It's vegetables," Victoria said, correcting her younger sister.
They all are hoping to plant again next summer.
"I'm going to plant 10 rows of garlic with 10 plants in the row so I can get 100 garlics," said Noah, the garlic lover of the group.
In the mean time the children will also work on their floral gardens that they each have. There are four patches of landscaping that surround the pool at Pam's home. Each child created and maintains their own garden.
Maybe next year they will add cut flowers to their list of products for sale.