Working at the Farmer’s Market

On Wednesday, I went with Herrcastle Farms, my CSA/farm job, to work at my first farmer’s market!  Topping out at near 100 degrees, it was a hot, but undoubtedly worthwhile experience.

The farmer’s market is where you get to see all your hard work pay off, and not just solely in monetary ways.  It’s when customers buy blueberries, and then ten minutes later come back with an empty container, raving and craving for more, that you know all that work in the field was worth it.  It’s when the husband comes and purchases 8 bunches of collard greens, saying the wife just can’t get enough of your gorgeous-looking greens.  It’s when the little kids start digging into the raspberries, red dribbling down their faces, before the mom can even finish paying.  It’s when people tell you that yours is their favorite farm stand.  It’s when the young lady comes and describes what she’s going to do with your potatoes that evening.  It’s the oohs and ahhs.  The smiles.  The thank yous.  The face-to-face appreciation for the hard work it takes to grow all of the wonderful produce and for providing a resource for obtaining in season, local food.

Getting to talk to the people and show off all those glistening, fresh veggies and fruit had to be my favorite part of working with the farm thus far.  It’s always interesting to see the eclectic crowds that pass in and out of farmer’s markets.  Actually working at the farmer’s market and getting to speak with all of these young, old, quiet, chatty, nice, and not so nice faces was an experience in itself.  While I can certainly get my hands dirty and sweat my butt off working in the gardens, working with people is also definitely in my element.

I loved educating the inquisitive faces about how different veggies were grown and the best ways to cook them up.  I also really enjoyed listening to customers’ stories about their own gardens and their favorite ways to use certain fruits and vegetables.

The inherently colorful displays at farmer’s markets get people excited about healthy foods, and this is exciting to see and be a part of!  However, the day also showed me just how unconnected a lot of people have become from the Earth.  “Where are the peaches?  You guys have cucumbers yet?” etc. etc…If you live in the northeast and you’re in touch with eating foods that are in season and knowing when things grow, you’ll know that items like cucumbers and certainly not peaches aren’t in season as early as June!  Cucumbers tend not to come until July, and as for peaches, sorry, but you’ll have to wait another couple months until August.

That’s what is great about farmer’s markets though.  It gets people to learn more about one of the very fundamentals of survival: FOOD.  Those who are unaware that peaches don’t grow in June probably aren’t aware of the endless hours of work it takes to grow and pick that table of food displayed in front of them.  But at least they’re out there, able to get in season, local food from the hands of small farmers, helping to move our food system towards the way it should be.

After a long, hot, and absolutely rewarding day, we packed up and headed an hour and a half home.  Once back at the farm, we unloaded the truck into the dark, taking in the few remaining veggies we had left (luckily the day was a success and we didn’t have to carry too much home with us!).  I then headed home and called it a night, resting up for another sweaty day under the sun calling my name the next morning.

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  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    June 25, 2010 at 6:30 am

    HOW FUN!!! I would love to do this. Seriously, what a great job to have. It’s funny too because just last night Nick and I were complaining about our garden, and how hard it has been just to grow a few simple crops! We are having bug problems and it’s really getting to us. We decided we have so much respect for all farmers out there who do this all year, or even just part of the year, and who kick butt! I’m just so impressed.
    Do you have any tips for getting rid of squash bugs??????

  • Reply
    June 25, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I would love to be able to grow fruits and veggies and sell them at a Farmer’s Market. I know how much I love buying and eating wonderful produce, so I can only imagine how it feels to be the ones whose hard work paid off!

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    June 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I LOVE hearing your perspective and it makes me love farmers markets even more!

  • Reply
    June 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Hey love! thanks for sharing your experience at the farmers market with us…it sounds great….

    I think you need to “school” me on produce info…I had no idea about the peaches and cucumbers lol

    AND I feel your pain about the heat…last week at the Food Pantry I was sooooo hot! I felt the sweat dripping down my back but at least I got a tan and I get to work on it again mañana

  • Reply
    June 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    What an array of produce. Yours would be my favorite farm stand, too!

  • Reply
    Can You Stay for Dinner
    June 25, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Such a beautiful spread of fresh fruits and vegetables! I’m a huge fan of the farmers market and I would love to come to yours!

  • Reply
    June 26, 2010 at 3:42 am

    We have a lot of these markets in Korea by the roadside, but we don’t call it farmer’s market, just roadside markets. Your enthusiam for it is infectious, though! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 26, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I loooove e what you’re doing Grace. This makes me happy, because as much as I love going to the farmer’s market, I love it even more that the people selling me things enjoy it. Ya know? I know from being on the restaurant side of things, and selling homemade food (in your case, home grown) that putting that much effort into something you care about, and seeing how much people like it, is so worth while! BEST feeling in the world.

    Those blueberries look delicious.

  • Reply
    June 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I went to the farmers market today. We finally have some produce now! It takes a month or so for produce to be available in the NW. Looks like you had a great time working there.

  • Reply
    June 26, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    What gorgeous pictures. One of my favorite jobs in college was working at the Farmers Market – I love talking to people.

    Going to the farmers market is in my calendar at work so I never forget – its like a meeting so I can’t argue with going. It is the best meeting in my calendar!

  • Reply
    Sarah (Enjoying One Meal at a Time)
    June 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Sounds great! Summer is such a great time to bond and educate people over food.

  • Reply
    Steven @ Positive Massage Therapy
    June 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I love going to the Farmers Market too! Sunday mornings here in Palo Alto- I ride my bike and always meet people I know. And besides all the great things already mentioned about food, what I enjoy is that the people buying are so much happier and more socialable than in a supermarket. Its a pleasure being part of the process.

  • Reply
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