Kayla Harris - Service
While Kayla Harris, 19, likes to make her own path, she doesn’t mind admitting she has managed to follow in the footsteps of both parents.
This Richmond, Va. native who has a double major in biology and urban and community horticulture, also happens to have a North Carolina A&T State University alumnus as a mom and a Virginia State University alumnus and part-time farmer as a dad.
“I like to think I have a splash of both parents in me,” she said.
Harris initially came to A&T as a biology major and developed an interest in horticulture in an honors English class.
“I was inspired by one of my teachers to learn about food justice and how food is a part of all of our lives,” she said.
After working on the project, the now sophomore had the idea to start a farmer’s market on campus. She initially got the idea for the market in September 2012. It wasn’t until Sept. 2013 that she managed to have the first market.
“I received a lot of support from faculty, staff, family and friends. It’s been a hard, long process – this is my baby. I’ve never worked so hard for something and I’m so glad I accomplished it,” Harris exclaimed.
“It was a really good turnout. I had about 100 people and I had a really good support system from the Honors Program and other organizations on campus (like) Greek Life and student activities. There was such a well-rounded group of students. I wanted to push away from it being open to just one department or major,” Harris said.
Harris is certainly no stranger to farming. Her father has grown vegetables for her family to eat or give away for years and her grandfather was a farmer.
“I’ve always been exposed to organic healthy foods and I love how Richmond embraces that,” she said. “In Richmond, there is the rural area but in a few minutes you can be in the heart of downtown.”
On the surface, it is hard to see how having a farmer’s market for college students would be practical. With the absence of stoves and other cooking materials, it can be hard to make the farmer’s market treasures edible.
“For the first market we were aiming for what students could do in their dorms. What I did was get student organizations to come up with recipes and samples of foods they could make in their dorm rooms with things they could get from the farmer’s market,” Harris said.
It worked. Some students took the recipes and made the decision to start changing the way they eat.
The initial goal was to have three markets this semester. On Oct. 26, Harris and her supporters completed their goal for the fall semester. They will begin work on the spring semester markets soon.
“I wanted to revive the true meaning of agriculture and revive the fact that we are A&T,” she said. “The market is a place of learning and unity and community fun,” she said.
“My goal is to bring the campus together and understand how important agriculture is to different aspects of our lives. Having a farmer’s market sets the tone that we are ready to make a difference and revive what A&T is all about.”