Loving Our Farmers Markets, Rain or Shine
I was originally only committed to work at Red Dog until the end of October, so this could have been a sappy end of (my) farming season reflection, but I’ve recently taken on the role of farmers market lead. This extends my work contract, and my reflection on this whole farming thing, through the middle of December.
When I was interviewed and first expressed interest in working the farmer’s markets, I had visions of sunny, blue sky days, friendly faced customers wearing sun hats and skirts, and trading produce for ice cream and lemonade. Maybe this fantasy stems from the fact that I’m from Florida and that’s what our markets and street festivals look like all year round. But this is my first fall in Washington, and you already know I’ve had quite the reality check. It’s not that I didn’t expect this dreary, rainy weather – honestly, it’s a big part of why I moved here from the humid, endless-summer south – but I guess I didn’t realize until recently how long into the year markets continued and what working in less-than-ideal weather would look and feel like.
This past weekend felt like a bold reality check, a test to see if I really do love the market atmosphere, whatever the weather. The Uptown market on Saturday was cold and rainy and slow. The Chimacum market on Sunday was cold and unexpectedly VERY WINDY. Maybe this is just my stubbornness talking, but – guess what – now that I’ve taken a hot bath and gotten a good night’s rest, I can say I really do still love the farmers market community, even in the cold and rain and wind. But I really must give credit to our loyal customers that also enjoy the market all season long, even when they can’t wear their sunhats and skirts and buy ice cream. They make it all feel worthwhile.
On Saturday, a woman noticed how cold my hands were when I gave her change and asked if she could buy me a coffee. Many of our regulars showed up with their familiar smiling faces. On Sunday, even after we were asked to take our tents down so they wouldn’t blow away, so many customers graciously thanked me for still being there to offer the local produce they look forward to all week. A friendly vendor-neighbor offered me a second jacket and everyone helped each other pack up or rearrange our booths to accommodate for the weather.
It may not have been the picture-perfect summer market atmosphere that captured my heart, but it’s the sustaining community support and appreciation for local, seasonal produce that has made me reflect more deeply on why I felt called to move to the peninsula and apply to work at every farm I came across. I came with no real experience, but a deep knowing that there’s something special about this realm and that I needed to be a part of it.