CAMBRIDGE — Caleb Mitchell, 13, is setting up a smoker in his backyard. His friend Cooper Ducharme, 13, announces his arrival by throwing a pair of his father’s large suede barbecue gloves over the fence. Dante Greco-Henderson, 12, arrives a few minutes later, carrying soccer gear for a game he has later in the day.
On this Saturday morning, the three seventh graders, who call themselves the “Backyard Jerks,” are smoking beef to sell as jerky to their classmates at Vassal Lane Upper School. They’re probably the youngest entrepreneurs on their block. They charge $1 dollar for jerky that weighs about half an ounce. Invariably, they sell out. But the trio is modest about their success. “Everyone’s hungry,” says Ducharme. This leads into a long discussion about the travails of school lunches. Ducharme says, “Last week, I got a milk that had expired 20 minutes ago.”