Buice column — Young farmer continues to produce

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2022

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When you check out the Clemmons Farmers Market, you’ll see a little bit of everything.

I always enjoy learning about a variety of things, and a recent visit produced a feature story around Labor Day on Terrestrial Sauce & Spice Co., which features hot sauces, mustards, jalapeños and the like, and Yellow Bell Farms, which expanded beyond traditional methods to include hydroponic farming.

And while strolling through all the booths, I saw a young girl who captured my attention a couple of years ago when I stopped by the market on a lot that adjoins the Jerry Long Family YMCA on a Saturday morning.

Shannon Ford, the marketing and communications director for the village who helps coordinate the local market, told me about a little “farmer” who might make a good story.

It was the first year of COVID and while taking on a small garden as a science project as she was being homeschooled by her mom after regular school was shut down in March 2020 because of the early days of the pandemic, Produce from Heaven became a reality that summer.

Nevaeh (which is Heaven spelled backwards), the then 10-year-old operator of the new business, said it was the first time she had done any gardening and quickly found out how much she liked to “see things grow and get to learn things I’ve never known.”

She grew everything from seeds, and the list included watermelon, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, squash, radishes and banana peppers.

Produce from Heaven has continued to be a part of the Clemmons Farmers Market for three straight summers, and she has grown the business — adding chickens last year and five more garden beds this year as she doubled her profits in 2022.

Ford said that Neveah has sold eggs the entire season as her farm expands.

“Her little farm is the epitome of an urban farm — with the chickens free range behind the swimming pool and the garden in the backyard,” Ford said. “And Neveah does all of the work. She has incredible work ethic for her age.”

Now 12 and a student at Clemmons Middle School, Neveah said that having a business has taught her a lot, particularly in dealing with money matters.

Her mom, Jessica, added: “She learned how to separate that business money that she’s saving in her business account and then what she needs to put back into her business.”

In her first year at the market, Nevaeh, who was in the fifth grade at Salem Baptist Christian School, had a jar on her table stating that all donations go to her school to support a scholarship to help a family.

Entering this school year, Nevaeh was hoping to start a Garden Club at Clemmons Middle School — knowing it would take three members and the principal’s approval — and then donate all of the produce to the Clemmons Food Pantry.

Her older sister, Alisa, who recently turned 16, is also quite the entrepreneur. Instead of produce, she has done handmade crafts, including earrings, and while working another job, she bought a car with her profits.

Talk about a couple of hard-working kids, these two set the standard.

But there are certainly many other stories and good stuff available every Saturday from May to October at the market, which has thrived in recent years since moving to the Y location.

“The growth of this market in customers, as well as vendors, is a true reflection of how much this community embraces local,” Ford said. “Artisan Day at the market has been well received, and I anticipate the same or a similar format next year with a monthly showcase of local crafters, makers and artisans in addition to our seasonal/producer vendors.”

Ford added that the addition of Lynette Fox, Clemmons events coordinator, to the staff has enhanced what has already been established.

“Lynette has coordinated and managed many activities such as rock painting, scavenger hunts and more for ‘kids of all ages’ at the market this year, and we have received such positive feedback,” Ford said.

And after last weekend’s weather forced the postponement of Harvest Fest, a celebration of the last day of the market, it has been rescheduled for Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Y where vendors will be present along with food, music and a final taste of all the goodies and items for sale.