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From bushels of basil to flats of strawberries, cherries and peaches, produce has been the star of the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club in recent weeks.

Now the community has a chance to sample the results of the kids’ wizardry in the kitchen, by visiting Sam’s Club from 3 to 6 p.m. today.

For a handful of dollars, you go home with fresh jam, pesto and baked goods and the kids gain funding for educational pursuits.

“Everything is handpicked and handmade,” emphasized David Quintero, 18. “The money will go to the teen program … and fund our college tours, Keystone conference and Keystone Club. It’s a big deal.”

Proceeds also go will back into the Club’s gardening program, which operates year round and, in large part, produces the fruits, veggies and herbs used in Club projects.

For the past few weeks, Club youth have tested their culinary, leadership and business skills.

Aside from caring for the towers that grow the food, the kids regularly harvest the produce and use them in healthy cooking classes. They also help prepare the items, slicing, dicing and chopping under the watchful eyes of Club staff.

They also handle produce donations from places like the farmer’s market, where they sometimes get ample amounts of fruit and vegetables that soon may be beyond ripe.

Recently, the kids learned to preserve their goodies, making freezer jam and pesto and two kinds of pickles. The feedback was so successful that the Club first took the unusual step of creating a virtual marketplace of Facebook to sell their goods.

“The parents have contacted me, asking how to buy them,” explained Susan Schwartz, a longtime volunteer who runs the garden club. “I thought, why not.”

So she created the Facebook page, and began selling the kids’ creations online.

Kids enjoy the process, she said, almost as much as eating their goods.

Wednesday, the kids excitedly began their final prep in anticipation of today’s sale. Other goods will include brownies and cookies.

Small jars of jam and pickles are $5, large jars are $10. Pesto is $10.

“They make it, they taste it, they get excited about it,” joked Schwartz. “Now they get to sell it.”

Jacqueline Holbert, 17, said the project has been great so far.

“It shows that you can actually make homemade jam and you don’t have to go to the store and buy it,” she said. “We’re helping people eat healthier. You can make it without sugar.”

The products, added Sergio Maciel, 15, are environmentally friendly — no pesticides or harsh chemicals are used to grow them.

“We’re not just about us. We’re about the world,” he said.

For more information on the club, visit

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