Toronto Waldorf Village Market: Not your usual student job

Morgan Stewart-Wilson is a Grade 10 student at the Toronto Waldorf School. On Saturday mornings, when most teenagers like to sleep in, Morgan is up at 7:00 am so he can be on time for his job at the Village Market.

Morgan at work at the Village Market.

Morgan helping customers at Gaille's (woman on the right) table at the Village Market.

The Village Market, where Morgan works, is an organic farmers market that happens every Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm all year round in the lower level of the Toronto Waldorf School. It’s the only year-round organic farmers market in York Region. Morgan started working at the market when he was in Grade 8. His first job was to help with cleanup which involves putting away tables, mopping floors and sweeping up vegetable scraps.

After Morgan had been doing cleanup for a few months, he was offered a second job at the Market, helping one of the vendors, farmer Gaille Lieberthal. While that job also involves some physical tasks moving things around, it’s mostly about serving customers. Morgan says this job has definitely helped him extend his social comfort zone beyond his own peer group. He says that since he’s been working for Gaille, he’s become much more comfortable talking to people who are older than he is. Also when Morgan first started he felt incompetent because he didn’t know the price of anything and would always have to ask someone else. But after nearly two years on the job he’s feeling a lot more knowledgeable and self assured.

While Morgan admits he is a messy person and his room at home is seldom tidy, cleaning up at the market has given him a new sense of responsibility when it comes to cleaning up anything he spills while working for Gaille . In fact, he’s sometimes resented other vendors who have left a lot of mess and garbage behind for him to clean up. But on further reflection, Morgan realized that the market wouldn’t need him to do this job if everyone was so perfectly tidy.

Morgan poses for a snap sitting on one of the carts used to ferry the tables back to storage at the Village Market.

Morgan poses for a snap sitting on one of the carts used to ferry the tables back to storage at the Village Market.

While money is a big part of why Morgan works at the market, he says his job also helps him stay in shape with all the physical effort involved in sweeping, mopping and putting away fifty-some tables. Morgan spends the $60-70. a week he earns on food, movies and eating out, although over the past two years he’s also saved enough to buy a $1,000 guitar and a laptop computer.

Morgan has also learned that he needs to moderate his partying on Friday nights so he can be able to function on Saturday morning. He says waking up early is definitely the hardest part of his job. But in spite of that, and in spite of being less free to party on Fridays, Morgan has a good feeling about working for a real person like Gaille, rather than for a corporation like McDonalds. He says the Village Market is a really good work environment, and he’s glad to be able to feel that he is part of the solution to the problems of the world, working for an organic farmer at an organic farmers market.

Morgan’s boss, Gaille Lieberthal has been selling chickens, eggs, maple syrup and yogurt at the Village Market since it started in 1991. She’s always had student helpers from the Toronto Waldorf School and says it’s a pleasure to see the young people who work for her grow and evolve over the years they’re with her at the market.

[Written by and photos by Richard Chomko, manager of the Toronto Waldorf Village Market.]

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