The Farmers Market: A Place Where Change Begins

by Guest Contributor on June 22, 2015

“I already have a master’s degree in gardening!”, proudly belts the eight year old running in tight circles with a few sprigs of chocolate mint in his hand.

“Huh. Nope, I don’t believe that.”

“I do too!”, he sing-songly replied, “ Miss Sara gave it to me!”

I look over to Matt, my farmers market commander, who is spritzing Red Russian Kale with a spray bottle. He nods at our new friend, now stomping in a puddle in front of our booth. Matt replies: “That’s very advanced. I have a PHD in turnips.”

Our new friend has joined Matt, Daniel (my fellow EarthDance Farmie), Miss Sara, and myself at EarthDance Ferguson Farmers Market booth. He is a student of Miss Sara Fitzpatrick’s at Halls Ferry Elementary School and is helping Miss Sara (an EarthDance Apprentice Alumnus) raise money for their school garden. We’re sharing the booth with them,  and our little degree-holding friend is handing out samples of mint to potential customers. This is truly a community farmers market.

On this sunny Saturday we’ve brought the produce that we harvested from the fields the day before. This is radical. Rarely had I felt more connected to the food chain. The seeds I helped sow and seedlings I helped transplant were now going to feed a hungry customer. This does not sound radical at all, but today, with an ever-expanding distance between our nourishment and our farmers, the experience brought things into focus for me. I felt part of a much larger picture.

We brought radishes, peas, kohlrabi, the first of the summer squash, and beets, and sold out of every crop. When a customer notified me that our neighbor was selling peas for a dollar less than ours, I had to explain that the (higher) price of certified organic vegetables reflected the true cost of production. I considered the benefits for farmers and consumers alike of a sign that reminded people that EarthDance vegetables are certified organic.

The beets sold so quickly we pondered: “Are beets the new kale?” Speaking of kale, we brought two varieties, Red Russian and Curly, and neither sold that well. Rising temperatures meant we had to continuously mist the delicate leaves to keep them from wilting. (Beets are the new kale anyway.) Spinach, chard, a variety of herbs, and scapes sold okay, whereas, the turnips, head lettuce, and mustard greens didn’t sell well at all.

Matt let us in on a bit of marketing sparkle when we were setting up. The mesclun mix would be labeled as the “Super Foods Salad Mix” because it consisted of different varieties of greens in the kale family, and everyone knows that kale is a “super food”. It worked. A lady even asked me what other vegetables she could buy to juice with it.

Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of produce vendors at the market. The vendors that were present displayed an assortment of late spring’s greatest hits: strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, and peas, as well as some early tomatoes, peaches, honey, and mushrooms. Though farmers appeared few in number, several members of the Ferguson community occupied the space. Market-goers ranged from the Ferguson library, local restaurants, and the friendly Ferguson Motorcycle Club. The market buzzed with patrons listening to live music, kids stomping in puddles, and adventurous folks buying alien-like kohlrabi for the first time in their lives.

This is a place where change begins.

About the Author

David Burnett is a 2015 EarthDance apprentice, aka Freshman Farmy. You can meet two of our apprentices each week at our booth at the Ferguson Farmers Market. Apprentices learn organic farming from seed to market, and enjoy the chance to share what they’ve learned with YOU!

 

 

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