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A learning experience
Times photo: Tere Dunlap David Parr fills a box with home-grown Red Pontiac potatoes to sell Saturday at the Farmers Market on the Square. Parr graduated from Monroe High School this spring; profits from his market go toward his college fund. Order photo
MONROE - The Farmers Market in Monroe is an opportunity for one recent Monroe High School graduate to earn some seed money for his college tuition.

David Parr, Monroe, used to help his grandparents, Ken and Luwana Parr, at the farmers market.

"But this year, I decided to go out on my own," he said.

The Farmers Market opened at 7 a.m. Saturday; by 10 a.m. Parr had sold two bushels of green beans. One customer bought a half bushel.

Technically, Parr is now in competition with his grandparents at the market, but it seems they are encouraging it.

Parr uses about an acre of rich soil on their farm, "where cows were raised for about 150 years," he said. "And nothing but grass has been there for the last 20 years."

They also let him use their tractor and tiller.

Last weekend Parr's Parrfection Produce stand featured four kinds of potatoes - Kennebec, Burbank, Yukon Gold and Red Pontiac, raised on 6,400 square feet.

"How did you get them so early?" a customer asked.

"I planted them early," he said. "Three days after the snow melted."

Parr, son of John and Angie Parr of Monroe, is knowledgeable about his produce and shares his knowledge with customers.

"Kennebecs don't have a good shelf life, generally," he told one man. "The Burbanks are a type of russet."

Another customer wanted beets.

"No, no beets. Sorry. Next week. I'm letting them get bigger," he told her.

Parr's early produce has included sugar snap peas, snow peas, green onions, "lots of radishes," Buttercrunch lettuce and three-pound heads of Romaine lettuce. The harvested pea plants are now under broccoli.

With his profits, Parr will attend college at UW-Platteville, where he intends to major in industrial engineering. He would also like to buy his own Allis Chalmers "G" cultivating tractor and a potato digger.

Parr wouldn't say how much money he's making at the market, but he admitted it was enough that he'll have to pay taxes. He plans to continue his college-funding market endeavor throughout his college career.

"As long as I can get the stuff planted," he said.

He will have to come home to get the earliest produce planted, but Parr thinks the mid-May class release date will give him enough time to get the rest planted and be ready for market, as long as he saves a little seed money.

The Monroe Farmers Market is open 2-5 p.m. Wednesdays and 7 a.m.-noon Saturdays on the south side of Monroe's Historic Downtown Square.