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.