With Labor Day approaching, we celebrated the last day of the local Farmers Market. Only about two-thirds of the usual vendors showed up on this holiday weekend, and a spattering of customers, but it was still a great success. One friend asked me at the beginning of the season “Did you have a good day?” And I replied “I had a great day.” Then I caught her drift. “Oh. I didn’t sell anything, but I really enjoyed myself. I had a great day!” She thrust a Mason jar full of wildflowers into my arms like a First Runner Up prize.
The gifts of being an “insider” at the Farmers Market are these:
- Friendship – My main goal during my first few months in a small town were to meet & greet my neighbors. And I have, in spades! I’ve made half a dozen good friends that I’ve visited outside of the market, and a dozen more acquaintances.
- Networking – I went to the kick-off meeting of a new community organization, and it seemed like half the folks there were also insiders at the Farmers Market. These are civic-minded folks, small business owners, peaceful activists, and passionate leaders. Many of our interests and activities overlap, as we crisscross paths at gardening clubs, fitness centers, book discussions and art shows.
- Bartering – Each week, I try to spend a few dollars on local delights from free-range eggs to okra, but seemed to pick up even more through trading goods. Like a yoga mat bag & market bag in exchange for natural bug repellant, lip balm & comfrey cream. Or, crocheted wash cloths in exchange for beautiful squashes. But even more than I traded, I was gifted – treasures like wildflowers, sprouts, tomatoes, and plants.
- Information – The town square is the place to be on Saturday mornings. This is where I found out about other vending opportunities, picked up a soil test kit, picked the brains of several master gardeners, and learned more about beekeeping. And of course all the scuttlebutt around what’s going on and when.
- Innovation – Great ideas for future crafts & offerings popped into my head each week then transferred into a tickler file for future consideration. Like baking wheat-free & gluten-free bread & treats. Growing lettuces & other greens in a cold frame pretty much year round. Crafting homemade unscented or essential oil based soaps.
- Health – I picked up wonderful homemade jams, herbs, and of course, fresh vegetables. My favorite finds were a recipe for tender okra – coat lightly with oil olive, dust with sea salt & bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I also scored a boat-load of tomatoes for dehydrating, and several varieties of fresh sprouts to snack on. Newly discovered roots & herbs, like sassafras made for delicious homemade tea, and yellow dock as a stomach tonic. I was taught how to use crushed plantain leaves on chigger bites – it really worked to take the itch away for several hours!
All in all, it was a most successful season, and I’ve got bigger, better plans for next Spring. The market really contributed to my physical, mental, and spiritual growth, and was only $5 to join for the full season. Where else can you get so much bang for your buck?
Think: Have you ever considered becoming an insider at your local Farmers Market? If you’ve thought about it before, what’s stopping you?
Say: Choose one or two items you’d like to make, bake or grow. Experiment with different versions until you find a few that are ready for “the public”.
Do: Sign up to become a vendor during the next market season. Put a fair price on your goods, rewarding the time and materials invested. But be open to bartering as well, or gifting what you have in abundance.