You’re reading Young & Green, the group blog written by participants of GrowNYC’s Youthmarket. This network of urban farm stands is operated by neighborhood youth, supplied by local farmers, and supplies communities throughout NYC with fresh fruits and veggies. Pretty cool, huh?
THIS WEEK'S MARKET SUPERSTAR: Kristy Allison Paz, age 19
The Youthmarket is full of great experiences that one can gain so much from. This was my first year working for Youthmarket, and I believe it has helped me develop relationships with new people and strengthen my job skills. Working at the Youthmarket helps one realize the importance of fresh food, and knowing where it comes from. I have become more aware of food issues since I started working with the Youthmarket, such as the difference between GMO and non-GMO foods. Youthmarket has helped me strengthen my teamwork and leadership skills. It has helped me to improve my customer service skills. I loved the experience I had with Youthmarket, and I really hope I can continue to work with GrowNYC for years to come.
Which market do you work at (or did you work at)? I worked at Kensington Youthmarket in June 2016, and when the season started I became an assistant manager at Norwood and Cypress Hills Youthmarkets.
How long have you worked for Youthmarket? I have worked for Youthmarket for a year, and I hope I can continue to do so!
What’s the funniest or the most interesting thing you’ve overheard at the market? The funniest thing I overheard at the market was when a lady complained about the price of our 4 pound jar of honey. As I was about to explain to her that the quality of this honey is great and that we know which farm our honey is coming from, another lady who overheard her replied, “Muchacha, no seas tan imprudente! ¿Comó tu vas a decir que eso es caro? Yo he comprado ese honey y es muy bueno! Me duro todo el año, y cuando usas los EBT te dan cupones que puedes usar para comprar otras cosas! ¿Verdad?” ("Woman don’t be so foolish! How are you saying that is expensive? I have bought that honey and it is real good! It lasted me a whole year and when you use your EBT card to purchase it, they give you coupons that you can use to buy other stuff! Right?") She looked at me and I nodded, accepting what she said. Then, I also added that we even know exactly what type of flowers the bees pollinated in the honey she was buying! With the help of another customer's experience, I was able to sell the complaining customer 2 big jars of honey!
Has the market changed what you eat? In what ways? Of course! Working in the market has changed the way I eat in a very positive way. I have integrated more fruits and vegetables in my diet. I am now able to easily fulfill my healthy requirement of eating 2 cups of fruits and 3 cups of vegetables per day.
Do you cook at home? Yes, I do cook at home.
What’s your favorite easy meal to make and how long does it take? My favorite easy meal to make is delicious roasted broccoli with melted parmesan cheese, rice, and roasted chicken. First, I prepare the broccoli. Then I prepare white rice with garlic, and I add roasted chicken breast with lime juice, scallions and garlic. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes for the whole meal to be ready.
Do you cook for your family members? Yes, I cook for my family members. I cook for my parents and for two younger siblings about three times per week.
What do they think about your cooking? They think my cooking is very healthy and delicious. My family enjoys the season when I work and I am able to provide lots of fruits and vegetables that they can easily prepare and eat.
Has the market affected your future job plans? How? Oh yes! Working with GrowNYC has helped me see how crucial it is to consume fruits and vegetables to be healthy. Therefore, I want to be able to work to improve awareness and make all this information more accessible to everyone. I want everyone that surrounds me to have the same knowledge of healthy eating.
Or school plans? How? Definitely! Working with GrowNYC and the Department of Health has made me see the correlation between knowing about nutrition and all the benefits healthy eating and actually having a healthy diet. Therefore, I decided to take a Dietetics, Foods and Nutrition Minor at Lehman College, where I currently attend.
Has the market affected how you interact with teachers at school? Yes! Dealing with tough customers can be the same as dealing with teachers who are tough. Having patience is essential. Sometimes it has helped me to keep a positive attitude during stressful days when I do not obtain the outcomes I believe I worked hard for.
What about classmates? I believe that customer service skills help you develop charisma, and help you interact with people you do not know outside of the school environment. Also, leadership skills have helped me take the lead in conversations with my classmates, and this has lead me to create new relationships!
What have you learned about dealing with nasty weather (super hot or cold or rainy or windy)? I have learned that you must check the weather every morning before going out to the market. It is very important to be prepared when working outside in the street.
What about dealing with tough customers? Dealing with customers is a challenge on its own. However, dealing with tough customers does not only require customer service skills but a lot of patience. Customers will always have to have the right answer or the preference as we know, therefore, we just have to learn how not to escalate the problem with the customer and try our best to always keep a smile. One thing I have learned that it is very important is that no matter if we are not having a good day and if there is a customer or two who are tough, we must never carry the negative energy in us and let it out on others, whether they are teammates or other customers.
What’s the most important question you think customers at the market should ask? I believe the most important question customers should ask at the market is how long the transportation of produce takes from the farm to our tables. I believe that consuming the freshest fruits and vegetables helps us gain all the vitamins and minerals each fruit or vegetable can provide our body.
What’s your favorite fruit or veggie that you tried for the first time while working at the market? My favorite vegetable that I tried for the first time while working at the market is collard greens.
What’s one you’re not crazy about? I am not crazy about swiss chard.
What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about working for Youthmarket? The advice I would give someone who is thinking about working for Youthmarket is that both responsibility and an optimistic attitude is an imperative. When working with Youthmarket, you will experience different roles to make the market run smoothly. Having a positive attitude about it will help you develop and strengthen your teamwork and flexibility skills. Additionally, responsibility plays a big role in working with Youthmarket because you must arrive on time along with your team to ensure that the market begins on time. We are responsible for making sure we complete our tasks and help our teammates complete theirs so that everything will work correctly in the market every week.
Do you have any hobbies? I love to travel. I definitely want to travel to different parts of the world. This upcoming year I plan to travel to Ecuador! It will be super exciting.
MORE YOUNG & GREEN!
• Meet Jonathan
• Hear about Corey's Youthmarket experience
• Future YM managers! Here's great advice from Will
• Greetings from the Best Cooking Duo!
• Meet Amaya
ALL PHOTOS: GROW NYC'S YOUTHMARKET