In 2014, Metro Career Academy (MCA) was awarded the $50,000 Cox Connects Community IMPACT Grant, which was used to fund Oklahoma’s first student-led farmer’s market at MCA. The “Sow-to-Grow” Farmer’s Market was open five Fridays, and provided students with unique interdisciplinary learning opportunities as Horticulture, Culinary Arts and Entrepreneurship students joined forces with local vendors to operate a small business open to the community.
The market was wildly successful, gaining the attention of local media outlets, drawing a significant crowd from the community each week, and received glowing reviews from participating vendors and students.
In December 2014, as the grant year came to an end, a luncheon was hosted at the Gaylord Pickens Museum for students to thank Cox employees for their funding, and to report their use of the funds and overall experience. Three MCA students addressed the audience with the following speeches:
Evan Mander, Horticulture Student
“As a first year student in Metro Technology Centers Horticulture Program I have gained many valuable skills thanks to each of you who contributed to the Cox Connections Grant. From meeting a small entrepreneur producing barbeque sauce in Duncan, Oklahoma to a local vegetable grower in Spencer, to a lawyer/ farmer in Yukon to an agriculture educator in Piedmont my knowledge has moved from abstract to real world relationships. I have problem solved when the wind was blowing too hard and the tents for the outdoor market were blowing in the wind to helping coordinating the spacing and set up of 22 tents on our busiest market day. However, these experiences have been priceless and as I continue on my educational journey you have shown me, a young agriculture entrepreneur that dreams can happen and that planting the seeds of generosity and knowledge with daily watering and nurturing we can all reap our dreams.”
Gissele Ramirez, Culinary Arts Student
“Making dreams happen and cooking up a storm of an idea to building our outdoor kitchen to producing and labeling our very own value added product typically happens for college students. However, with your support you helped us to create another laboratory for my fellow culinary arts students to teach, train and educate the public about healthy eating with fresh local produce. From truck tacos to smoked brisket with rosemary sauce we have shared our delicious food with 1,200 guests during the 5 market days. We have loaded up the trailer and even done 3 food educational events teaching the public about growing sweet potatoes and cooperatively working with the local department of agriculture with a food day on the lawn. Igniting opportunities and investing in our talents and local community each of you have sparked a theme to give and grow local, thank you for believing in us.”
Sawyer Austin, Horticulture Student
“Vision combined with hard work and a team approach is emulated by the Cox Corporation on a daily basis. You supported our dream of implementing a local farmers market whether through financial donations or contributions of time. Many of you helped us with vendors to set up or take down their booths on a windy day in September. As a graduating senior I have been able to operate a booth for a local farmer for 5 weeks. I learned there are more than 100 sweet potato varieties and that Oklahoma was a leading sweet potato producing state in the early 1900’s to how to make sweet potato pie to doing interviews on the fly. Although, as a city kid I have learned the most valuable lessons are customer service, shaking their hand, counting back change and knowing that your product represents you. Displaying an attitude of service and enjoying your job and being proud of your product is the key to success. Thanks to each of you not only have you invested in the Oklahoma City Community, local entrepreneurs but you have invested in today’s youth who will be tomorrow’s consumers, leaders and more importantly Cox Employees. Thank you for a once and a lifetime experience on behalf of myself and 55 other Metro Technology Centers students who will continue the legacy of the first student-run local farmers market in the heart of Okc Attractions Area.”
The Horticulture Students made floral arrangements for the event and table tents describing their pieces were created by Cox Communications. Also in attendance were Metro Tech Associate Superintendent Dr. Dennis Portis, Representative Mike Shelton, MCA Site Director Barbara Loudermilk, Horticulture Teacher Jona Kay Squires and Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Travis Williams.