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Old North End Farmers Market Sets Up Intergenerational Program

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Children from the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington and residents from the Ethan Allen Residence at the Old North End Farmers Market - COURTESY OF THE LIVING WELL GROUP
  • Courtesy Of The Living Well Group
  • Children from the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington and residents from the Ethan Allen Residence at the Old North End Farmers Market

The Old North End Farmers Market has a new booth, and it's staffed by some of the market's youngest — and oldest — vendors.

The Ethan Allen Residence's Intergenerational Farmers Market program is a collaboration of residents and local children from the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington, with help from the Vermont Community Garden Network and HANDS (Helping and Nurturing Diverse Seniors).

Since early July, children from the Boys & Girls Club have been joining the Ethan Allen residents to harvest vegetables grown in the eldercare facility's backyard, package baked goods made by the residence's head chef, Pam Scanlon, and sell it all at a booth at the Tuesday evening market in Dewey Park.

"There are huge benefits in connecting the generations," said Cameron Segal, external affairs director at the Living Well Group, of which the Ethan Allen Residence is part. "It helps kids see value in their elders, and our residents absolutely light up when they see the kids."

The Burlington-based Living Well Group is a nonprofit that runs three residential-care assisted-living homes for low-income older Vermonters living with dementia. Although it was initially difficult to find a children's organization to partner with, Segal said, the Boys & Girls Club saw the value the collaboration would bring to its young participants, and the two have been a perfect fit.

With its established presence in the community, the Boys & Girls Club has helped spread the word about the program. "Seeing elders handling the cash box and children handing out the baked goods gets people excited," Segal said.

Profits from the booth's sales are used to fund engagement programs at the Ethan Allen Residence. "But it's not about selling things and making money," said Segal. "It's about bringing generations together and bringing our residents out into the community every week."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Generating Connections"