tips for your next trip to the farmer’s market

So you’ve found your local market, and you’re ready to head out–what’s next?

Seattle Farmers’ Market, Spring 2009

  • Give yourself plenty of time!  There’s so much to see and explore.  The market is not like the grocery store–it’s not about getting in and out with the necessities.  Take the time to get to know both the food and the folks.
  • Take a bag or two.  They may have some plastic bags from the grocery store or brown paper lunch bags, but it will be much easier if you take a “green” cloth bag that can hold several different items.
  • Take cash and preferably, in small bills, and keep it easily accessible.  It will make for easier shopping.
  • If your market is not covered, prepare for the weather.  Sunscreen and a hat might be in order on those warm summer days.
  • Be aware that farmers have different personalities and salesmanship.  Some will invite you to inspect the food; others will clearly give you the stink eye if you start digging through their peach basket.  Also, I never initiate bargaining with a farmer–I just don’t feel right about taking money out of their pockets.  If they offer to lower the price (like at the end of the day), I’ll graciously accept.
  • And speaking of the end of the day–want to go when there are fewer people and possible deals?  Hit the market at the very end of the day.  Want to  get the freshest choices and have first pick?  Head out in the early morning.
  • Remember that there’s not necessarily a traffic flow at the market like you’d find in a grocery store.  Be respectful of those around you and aware of how people are moving to see the food and make purchases.
  • Appreciate the farmer’s time–he or she may be the only person working the booth or stall which means he or she

    WNC Farmers’ Market from http://www.activerain.com

    will be answering questions, bagging food, making sales, etc.  Asking for special samples or asking a lot of questions may cause the farmer (and those around you) a bit of stress.

And what I consider the most important tip–thank the farmer who has grown this amazing food for you.  These folks are offering you the opportunity not only to live a healthy lifestyle but also connect with the community.   It’s a wonderful outing, and you’ll find it so much more enjoyable than rolling a cart up and down aisles of an indoor store.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run make my list–Saturday’s just around the corner!

lessons learned: tomato cages and friendship

This week, I have experienced the unconditional care and support of friends.  Sometimes, if you are lucky, you find friends who take you as you are. I consider it “grace” when they see all that, love on you, and accept you in all your brokenness anyway.

I am reminded of this meditation from 2 summers ago.  Given that I just put in the tomato starts this week, I think it’s a good time to repost.  take care~cameron

 

Last night, a handful of us headed over to the community garden at our church. You see, our woman’s group decided to become the seed planters, literally and figuratively speaking, for a new ministry with and in the community where we live.  It is a “baby step” project with commitment, faith, and dreams that will carry it beyond this first year of poor soil, weeds and groundhogs.

My goal last night was to create chicken wire cages to prop up the tomato plants heavy with fruit.  You see, we’ve had rain the last few days, and if you know anything about tomatoes, all that water creates food filled with juice.  Between Saturday and yesterday, the plants appeared to be heavy in mind, body and spirit calling out to me, “Help!”tomatoes SUMC

I was the first to arrive and began working on the project on my own, and not so effectively I might add.  If you’ve never unrolled chicken wire, it can be a doozy to keep straight without the help of another person.  That statement doesn’t even capture what it’s like to cut it in pieces.  They snap off, flying every whicha way so that my legs this morning look as if our cat used my body for her scratching post.

After a bit, however, a friend arrived.  Yay!  In no time, we were working together to unroll, cut, and place the cages then tie up the tomatoes with twine.  With the help of two other women and two budding little farmer girls, we steadied 32 plants by the end of the evening.

Before we left, I stood at the edge of the garden.  I thought about those tomato cages and how they are like friendship.

Sometimes, life showers us with situations that leave us heavy in mind, body and spirit.  We become droopy and fatigued, wondering if we can bear the weight of it all.  Then come our friends.  They can’t take away the burden, but they gather around us and prop us up–through kind words, gentle hugs, quiet reassurance, and mindful prayer, helping us to grow and blossom and lighten our load.