In our Play Farmers' Market, children can find toy food, shopping carts and cash registers. Among the most popular spaces for children in the conservatory, the Play Market takes advantage of the child’s natural interest in food to introduce what real food looks like. It also allows children to model their parent’s behavior to reinforce the connection between the garden and the market. Furthering this connection, the nearby Tropical Fruit and Spice Room and Rooftop Edible Garden showcase what familiar foods such as bananas, oranges, lettuce, rice and cinnamon look like when they are growing.

Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini was inspired to created the Play Farmers' Market several years ago on a museum visit with his children:

"This museum had a play supermarket and my kids were having a great time pretending to shop for groceries. Then I looked in their cart and was surprised by what I saw. There were boxes and boxes of sugar-frosted cereals, cookies and pastries, and sugary drinks. I couldn’t believe it. What kind of message were we sending to our kids? When I got back to Phipps, we set up our own Play Farmers’ Market with whole fruits and vegetable props, and the kids love it! Best of all, feedback from parents and caregivers tells us that when children are at the actual supermarket, they point to the real fruits and vegetables because they want to try the foods with which they played. This is so important because it is a sad fact that many kids have never seen or tasted real whole fruits and vegetables before."

Visit the Play Farmers' Market with the little ones in your life any time Phipps is open.

Photos © Paul g. Wiegman, Cory Doman, Phipps staff