A 12-year-old boy from Lethbridge has been running his own tomato business for years and is now teaching other kids to grow their own money.
Parker Metz has partnered with the Interfaith Food Bank to teach a 10-week course instructing kids on how to grow, tend, market and sell five tomato plants each.
“They will learn customer service, personal safety, budgeting, investing, goal setting, bank account stuff and savings,” Parker said. “Pretty much everything you’ll need to become an entrepreneur.”
Parker started his business when he was just seven years old after his mother accidentally grew too many tomatoes.
“My mom had a really hard time growing tomato plants–that was something she never figured out how to do. Out of desperation, she planted 100 of them and they all survived,” Parker said.
“She said she was going to throw them out, I said no and loaded them up on my little red wagon and sold them around the neighbourhood.”
Just like that, the Tomato Wagon was born. Last year alone, Parker made almost $800 from selling door-to-door and at the Magrath Farmers’ Market.
“I started investing and I’ve already made free money off of that, so it’s been really good,” Parker said. “I’ve worked to get bigger things like an iPod and electric scooter.”
Parker’s mother Abby Metz says it’s great her son is learning how to make his own money and achieve his own goals.
“It was really important to us–as Parker started to make more money–to teach him the things we wish we would have known: to put money aside and to save for some bigger things,” Abby said.
A couple of years ago, Parker enlisted the help of his friends and siblings.
He sells them his plants for a fraction of the cost so they can turn around and make a profit, as well.
“I like spending time with Parker and walking around the streets, asking people to buy tomatoes,” Parker’s friend Morteza Faraji said. “I’ve learned a little about business because we went to Magrath and learned about business when we went to the farmers’ market.”
Parker also has a partnership with the Wildrose Heritage Seed Company from Lethbridge, where he buys all of his seeds.
This year, he’s planted 600 plants, which he hopes are ready to start selling by May long weekend.
“This year I’m hoping to break $1,000, which is a big goal, but I think it’s realistic,” Parker said.
“I think I can do it, with all my team and my friends, the support of the community… I think I can do it.”
The 10-week course for kids ages eight to 12 years old will start March 24 and run every Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. until June 2. To register, call 403-320-8779.