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!

every laugh line on your face, made you who you are today

I like to read and repost this one annually to honor one more year’s travel on the journey~

This is for all you girls about 42

Tossin’ pennies into the fountain of youth

Every laugh, laugh line on your face

Made you who you are today.

~This One’s for the Girls, sung by Martina McBride

Thank you, Martina McBride, for singing those lyrics with such energy and spirit!  When I listen to the live version of that song, I can’t help but smile knowing that in spite of all of the challenges in my last 40some years, I have laugh lines to remind me of what’s important.

The year of my separation, I can remember stopping one morning as I got ready for work.  Was it true?  There in the mirror stood a woman who had experienced a significant life transition but there, as a badge of honor, were the makings of two line sat the edge of her smile.

In the time since then, I’ve experienced death and loss, cancer and illness, spiritual isolation and physical pain.  I stand on my front porch this morning, however, and I look out over my little suburban farm, and I know that it has been my saving grace.

Yes, family and friends have been my safety nets, my mentors, and my support.  God has been my rock, my nurturer,and my peace.  But this farm, this farm has let me sweat out frustration, dig through tears, and hoe around problems.  It has excited me, encouraged me, and humbled me.  I have lost myself then found myself again out in this small piece of creation.

Most importantly, however, it has renewed my sense of purpose, filled me with delight, and taught me more about who I am than most other adventures on this life’s journey.  Not only has it contributed to the etching of laugh lines but also has defined muscles, warmed my spirit, and opened my heart.

So on this day, I’ll spend some time celebrating out in the vines and stalks, dirt and mulch that have welcomed me into their family and defined for me the simple meaning of “grace.”  And you better believe, I’ll be puttin’ those little laugh lines to work today! : )

lessons learned: dandelions and faith

This morning I came across this blessing in Jan Richardson’s book In the Sanctuary of Women.  “Rootedness” seems to be a theme in my life right now so I thought I would repost this meditation.

May your roots go deep

and deeper still

into the holy ground of God. 

~Jan Richardson

Last week, we had some gentle rain showers which soaked the land well.  After one such morning, I threw on the boots and headed outside to pull some weeds.  You see, I’ve quit using pesticides and in some cases, I just leave the weeds be, but when they start to encroach on the nutrients our vegetables need, then I take action.

Right beside the sugar snap pea trellis sat a fat, yellow dandelion.  She mocked me with her size as if to say, “No tool you have will get rid of me.”  I glared at her then patiently began to tug.  Yes, I do have tools to remove even the toughest of weeds, but for some reason, I was determined to take care of this bully myself.   Tugging a deeply rooted plant takes patience, and I was in it to win it.dandelion

I say most of it because as any gardener knows, with some plants, if you leave any part of the root, it’s only a matter of time before a new plant appears.  You see, being rooted takes strength and intentionality.  If you think about a root, it grows more deeply as it seeks out the source of its sustenance.  The more it is fed by what it needs, the stronger it becomes.

It’s like faith.  Being rooted in it serves not only to ground us but also to grow us.  Being rooted is more than just seeking balance–it is growing more deeply not only in our connection with God but also in relationship with ourselves.  We know that whatever comes our way, we have the foundation for maintaining a sense of peace and wholeness, even when someone or something tugs at us, trying to uproot us.

So what became of that dandelion out by the trellis, well, I got a good chunk of her out of the ground.  I imagine, however, that deep under mulch and soil, a piece of her awaits, and she soon will rise again.

lessons learned: hydrangeas and healing

A much needed reminder this morning.  ~cameron

We human beings are like plants. We need to be cared for in order to grow and thrive.  It’s not always a perfect formula. In general though, we need to be watered, fed, and sometimes pruned. And just like plants, without enough nourishment, we are not going to make it. And conversely, too much water and food can do us in. Too much pruning will take away the parts that, although ugly, often protect and shelter us.

~ Ben Hamrick

I love my hydrangeas, but by golly, they are one of the most challenging plants in my yard.  I’m not sure why as they love partial shade, but typically, I have to go against my nature of letting the plants “just be” and with the hydrangea bushes, I “just care.”

One year, someone gifted me a beautiful blue Nico that I admired with all my heart.  If I could be a color, it would be that shade of blue.  After nurturing her closely for the summer, I sadly watched her die practically right in front of my eyes.  I didn’t know what killed it, but there she sat, brown and ugly.  Out of frustration one day, I got the shears and pruned it back, I mean way, way back, then covered it with oak leaves and hoped it would shoot up in the spring.

Well, it didn’t.

I waited patiently until mid-June and still nothin’.

Finally, I decided to move away all the leaves and just let Nature take her course.  And she did.

Not that year, but the next, up came the Nico.  I could not have been more overjoyed.  In spite of the “care” I had offered, what she had really needed was time to work through it.  She had to find what fed her body and spirit and draw it in.  She had to take the time to heal from all the clips and cuts I’d made to her branches.

Sometimes in our lives when we experience sadness, pain, or challenge, people (and even our own selves) expect us to get through it or get over it.  We are expected to shed the dead leaves and trim away the hurt because we are supposed to be “ok.”

What I’ve learned from that Nico hydrangea is this–our spirits were created to adapt and heal, but only if we give them the time they need to do so.  Honoring the pain and working through it is part of the journey–in some ways, it gives us the time we need to be sheltered and protected so we can heal and grieve.

As autumn arrived this year, I looked at my sweet Nico bush.  She’d spent a summer growing fresh flowers for the kitchen table and big blooms for dried arrangements.  As I tucked her in for her long winter’s nap, I was mindful about how I prepared her for the season ahead.  I wanted to leave her with what she needed to be restored and whole again next summer.