Ever go to a farmers market? What comes to mind when you are there?
For me, a farmers market conjures up images of fresh local food —and really good food at that. Fresh from the garden veggies, home baked yummy treats, gorgeous flower bouquets with those deep yellow sunflowers smiling up at the sky.
Farmers markets also mean summer to me, with warm sunshine beaming down and lots of people leisurely milling about, enjoying their time together.
Community building is a big part of these markets, with local vendors having a chance to meet local residents, sharing stories and making connections.
As a former vendor, farmers markets mean something more to me as well. For one thing, they mean a lot of hard work! Upfront research and preparation is so important though. Decisions need to be made about which markets are the right fit, what color should the tablecloth be, should prices be posted on individual items, how to keep veggies and flowers looking fresh on a hot sunny day, four hours into the market. Yet all of this work is forgotten during the excitement of the actual event.
Often, music is playing and the mood at the market is upbeat. You become a part of the community of other vendors, sharing stories (and sometimes even pricing tactics) even before the market opens. You help each other out when “stuff” happens, such as a tent-wrecking wind storm when your neighbor bails you out with duct tape. You learn from each other, and you trade your wares at the end of the day.
An overwhelming sense of belonging to a broader group happens as well—being a part of the community itself. Some people chitchat and hang out at your booth for a bit. They ask advice about veggies or herbs, and solicit suggestions for cooking. They give their own advice as well, and so the networking begins. Acquaintances are started and friendships are formed. You are associated with your wares and take pride in your contribution to the market.
As summer moves into fall and the markets start to dwindle and close up, you are weary and ready for a break. You are also sad knowing that this community that you have become a part of is about to take a hiatus. This feeling is short lived though as you start planning for next year, and are excited to rejuvenate that sense of belonging once again.