Here’s to youth

Young entrepreneurs make strides; Oroville’s Saturday farmers’ market moves

Oh, to be young again. I just celebrated a birthday, so I’ve been feeling a little old. But instead of boring everyone with stories about being around before cellphones (“back in my day …”), I’m going to write instead about a couple of awesome young people whose entrepreneurial spirits give me hope for the future.

Evalyn Jones is a senior at Live Oak High School. Her company, EJ’s Romneys, was born eight years ago (you do the math) out of a Future Farmers of America and 4-H project in which she sought to breed Romney sheep, which are known for their wool. “I started out with two bottle lambs I purchased from a local sheep breeder,” she told me via Facebook chat. “As soon as the lambs were old enough, I started showing them at local fairs.”

Today, Jones has four mature ewes that she cares for and shears. She then sells the wool or sends it out to be cleaned and spun, at which point she dyes it and sells it or uses it to make cool products. Check out her Etsy shop at

I learned about Jones because she’s the recent recipient of a $2,000 scholarship from the National Federation of Independent Business’ Young Entrepreneur Foundation. She’s one of 100 young people from the United States, and just one of three in California, to win such an award. That’s pretty darn cool.

“I plan to use the scholarship to help me with my education as I attend Montana State University in Bozeman next year,” she said. Right on.

Chicoan Allie Boyer also became impassioned at a young age. I first met Boyer when she was just 10 years old and she’d already launched her campaign against palm oil, the production of which has wiped out huge swaths of orangutan habitat. Last year, she won an international entrepreneurship competition for her Purses 4 Primates nonprofit, which to date has raised over $27,000 for orangutan outreach programs. And just last month, Boyer, now 18, was featured on Nickelodeon’s The HALO Effect, which recognizes teens who inspire their communities. Go to to see her full episode.

Market move The Saturday Oroville Farmers’ Market, which returns for the season May 14, will be in a new location. And yes, the rumors are true: The downtown lot where it’s historically been held (at the corner of Huntoon and Montgomery streets) is slated for cleanup by PG&E, which is currently testing the site to determine a plan of action. Utility spokesman Paul Moreno told me, however, that the site is not currently a health hazard. It was the location of a manufactured gas plant that closed in 1926. A public comment period on the remediation plan will be held in the fall.

Riverbend Park will be the market’s new home, and it sounds perfect to me. Angel Gomez, market manager for Chico Certified Farmers’ Market, which oversees the event, agrees. She told me in an email: “A park, the river and a farmers’ market—I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning.”