A new vendor at the Huntingdon Farmers Market has been surprising members of the community as one of the youngest the market has ever seen. Just 13 years old, Connor Smythe has been selling his fresh eggs every week to many return customers.
“When I started having chickens, I was in kindergarten. I got two bantam chickens from a friend of mine at the Ormstown Expo … I had those for about 7 years. In January of 2020 I got 10 chickens so I could sell eggs,” explains Smythe. In June of 2020, he purchased 10 more hens and was then gifted another 20. What originally started as a small enterprise to provide eggs for his family quickly grew to include a much larger customer base. As of May 2021, he has 80 hens to keep up with the demand.
Smythe is a student at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School (CVR), where he will be entering eighth grade in the fall. During the school year, taking care of the chickens can get a little more complicated. Because he lives in Huntingdon, his flock stays with his grandfather. “Usually [on school mornings] my grandfather will look after them because I can’t go in the morning. After school I’ll [get off] the bus right there and I’ll look after them, because [caring for] 80 chickens is a lot for my grandfather. I get about 60 eggs a day right now. I’m usually able to keep up.”
In June he decided to set up a stand at his house to see if anyone would be interested in buying his extra eggs. “We live right on the corner where the market is. I decided to set up a little kiosk to see how many I could sell because I had a few extra dozen that week, and I actually sold 13 dozen. The people from the market came to see if I wanted to join … so I tried it, and I liked it, so I continued doing it.”
In fact, the president of the Huntingdon County Farmers Market, Éric Leboeuf, was so impressed with Smythe’s initiative that he not only invited him to join the market, but proposed a special introductory fee be established to encourage other young entrepreneurs from the region to join.
Smythe now has 13 regular weekly customers at the market and is still expanding his clientele. The overall response has been very positive: “I love it when customers come back to the market to tell me how delicious the eggs are!” he says. “Even while [I was] away camping this summer, I received phone calls for eggs. I love how new people are interested in buying eggs from me.”
He enjoys being part of the farmers market because “I really like being a part of something that I have gone to for years as a customer. I appreciate getting treated like the other vendors, not like a kid.” He also enjoys getting to know customers and delivering their eggs so he can have a visit. He says it’s important for young people to be involved in the community because it’s a way for them to learn from those who are older and have experience, and it helps them to improve and be ready to take over when it’s their turn. “You’re able to learn; the learning experience is big. … While meeting new people, they might tell you about when they were kids and how they raised chickens – and they might also have a different idea that you haven’t thought of.”
Smythe hopes to “continue in the egg business for many years.” He wants to learn about new breeds of chickens and possibly add them to his flock, and he plans to pursue agriculture-related studies and keep on participating in the community.