Community is the best word to describe the farmers market. It is a diverse group of individuals, coming together to provide a service for the surrounding community. Here you can find local produce, canned items, baked goods, soaps, and crafts. Along with these three dimensional items you’ll find more important things; passion, friendship, and competition. Each vendor contributing their unique goods, talents, and wisdom. All willing to share these things with each other and anyone else who may wander through.
Market begins long before reaching the parking lot. It starts with planning, planting, meetings, baking, cleaning, sorting, crafting, and packing. Long hours, thought, money and sweat are invested before any customers show up. Every vendor honing their processes through the seasons to bring the best they can to their booth. The market as a group working together to promote its presence.
As a vendor, pulling into the lot, I’m greeted by the sight of friendly faces and hurried waves of other vendors unloading. Each vehicle as varied as the people and supplies they carry. The process begins with tables, then boxes, bags, crates, coolers, and baskets. Each item pulled from its container to be lovingly displayed. Rows of brightly colored jams, pickles, and salsa. Baskets filled with fresh beans, peas, carrots, and tomatoes. Mounds of squash and pumpkins. All topped with a large tent for shade. A few eager customers mill around the activities edge, waiting to make the first selections.
After setup, as you look down the once empty sidewalk, you now see each individual booth as a part of a whole. Like departments in a store, each offering a different selection of goods. Closing your eyes you can smell the dill, earthy veggies, herbal soaps, and baked goods. The sound of friendly conversation, the gentle splash of the fountain, and the rustling of bags greets your ears. The sense of community is heightened with each new person who walks through, getting and receiving warm greetings along the way.
Customers are the heart and soul of this community. From them vendors gain so much more than revenue. They share with us their stories, recipes, likes and dislikes. We learn about their families and hobbies. Most have wonderful advice about gardening and farm life that they’re willing to share. Exchanging traditions and knowledge that would otherwise be lost.
Joining this community is not hard. Just stop by a local market. Take in the atmosphere. Talk to vendors and other patrons. You don’t have to like gardening or even veggies. Most markets offer so much more to see and do. Become a part of something that elevates each individual by offering fresh locally grown produce, crafts, and most of all a kinship within a community.
Farmers Markets depend heavily on the surrounding community for support in order to grow and offer more services. Feed back is always welcome. Please share with us your comments, observations, and suggestions. Without feedback it’s hard to change, grow, and enhance the Farmers Market experience. Also check out the links below to make comments or find a market in your area.
North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association