Finally, a farm post!
The markets are in full swing right now. We’ve been fortunate to have great weather on market days this year, in spite of our relatively cool, wet summer. It’s a lot of work to schlep stuff like tables, tents and full coolers to market, but it’s one of my favourite things to do – after working hard in the greenhouse and fields to grow everything and keep the weeds & insects from taking over, it’s rewarding to take it all to market and have people come back every week to get more, and let you know how much they enjoyed everything.
The market is also a place to make connections. A few weeks ago, an older man walked his bicycle up to my table and started asking me about the market – it was his first visit. As we chatted, another older man walked his bike over (yay bikes!) and asked me if we had any wild garlic. We don’t, but I showed him what garlicky stuff I could offer him, and the other guy turned and said “hey, I have tons of that stuff growing in my backyard.”
The two ended up talking beside my tent for 20 minutes about wild garlic and what to do with it, and in the end, exchanged phone numbers. The person who had it growing in the yard offered to dig some up for the other to plant and use himself.
I love witnessing this kind of interaction!
Earlier in the year, I had another person buy celery root and come back the next week telling me all about a recipe she’d used it for. She ended up emailing me the recipe so I could try it myself. Other times, during cold weather at outdoor markets, regular customers have brought me warm drinks or given me ‘tips’ so I could get a snack. These acts are never unappreciated!
Sometimes market interactions present a knock on the head, too. Recently someone talked to me about trying to eat well while on disability. Being on disability doesn’t afford you much spending money if you have rent to pay, and she had trouble accessing the fresh foods she was looking for. As it turns out, a nearby business was handing out vouchers to spend at the market. After I told her this, she was able to pick one up and come back to get what she wanted, which might have otherwise been too expensive for her. While I appreciate that farmers don’t make a lot of money – I bet many of us organic farmers wouldn’t be able to buy exclusively organic food with the amount of money we earn – I struggle with the current trend that “clean” food is only for the wealthy. Nutritious, tasty foods that haven’t been exposed to chemicals which cause nerve damage or hormone disruption should be available to everyone. When you start to understand how living in poverty has negative effects on health, it feels even more urgent to (at the very least) ensure that low-income folks are able to eat this food if they wish. I realize that for some, the ability to put food on the table each day is a struggle as it is, but as my market visitor demonstrated, that doesn’t mean that those of us who don’t have a steady or sufficient income aren’t concerned about what’s going into our bodies.
Though it’s not up to me to offer discounts to customers, I hope to be able to do something along these lines in future and am looking into how that might work. I’ll write about that topic soon, so if you’re interested in making organic or otherwise healthier food available to everyone regardless of their income level, check back soon. Better yet, if you have ideas or are already making efforts to do that, leave a comment and tell me about it!