The market is a fascinating place. At first, it looks a bit intimidating. There is a bunch of stuff I've never seen before and sometimes I'm afraid to ask, "What the heck is that?", not wanting to show my incompetence. However, if you continue to go, over time you'll see the subtlety of the ebb and flow of vendors and patrons. What I love about the market, besides the produce, are the people.
If you spend 5 minutes talking with a farmer, you'll leave that conversation very humbled. Think you've had a rough week? Listen to the story of the farmer who lost his whole apple crop to a blossom frost, the same spring he lost his wife of 50 years and yet he has the most gorgeous apples to sell you because he just drove 200 miles to get them. He's still got the best price and yes, he misses her.
The farmers had a lot of trouble this year with the cold Spring and late tomatoes, just like we did. However, since it is their livelihood, it's Trouble x 100. Some farmers had to plant their corn 3 times. The first two plantings got washed out by the rain. With record high corn prices, the third planting will help them break even. That's a lot of work for no profit. One farmer lost his whole field of pumpkins to squash bugs. Shame on me for complaining about losing a zuchini plant to the pests.
It's always fun to talk with the lady who bakes every kind of bread, pastry and cookie you can imagine. She grinds her own flour, makes everything fresh for market. Her young sons are always there chatting up customers and handing out samples. We love the little guy, maybe 10 years old, he is a pro already, flipping out a wad of cash to hand you your change. Farmer Tom says her biscuits and gravy are to die for. We always stop there just before we head home.
It was cold and windy at the market yesterday. Winter was on everyone's mind. Several vendors said this was their last week. Prices were very low. My Princess Stanley pumpkin that I've fussed over all summer? Those were going for a $1.50. My birdhouse gourds? A buck. I grabbed a bunch of tomatoes, pears and apples, even though I didn't need them. I just want to be sure I canned enough to last until next season.
Our society takes a lot of things for granted. We are used to getting our food, in season or out of season, whenever we want it. We complain about prices. We don't appreciate the huge losses a farmer endures in order to get us our "organic" product. For many, rain is nothing but a nuisance. For farmers, rain can be a king maker or breaker. Next time you wander through the produce aisle at the supermarket, take a moment to think about our farmers. Better yet, if you still have a farmers' market active in your area, thank a farmer in person.
Today will be a bonus canning day. For that, I have a farmer to thank.
To learn more about my canning and other projects, stop by to visit me at www.facebook.com/thepocketfarmer