Monday, May 11, 2009
Like Coming Home
It's been a while since we visited our local farmer's market, which is, in my opinion, the best one in the state. With the end of pregnancy and life with a newborn, I just couldn't make it a priority. But I needed some heirloom tomato plants for my garden. So this weekend I set the alarm and headed off with Hobbes and Baby Linus in tow.
Linus' first trip to the market was a feast for his eyes and mine. The sounds of people chatting with farmers, the deep greens and reds of spring lettuce and strawberries, the smells of freshly baked bread and earth and berries. I instantly felt at home and wondered why I had let the weeks go by. (We are fortunate to have a market with limited hours during the winter, so I can buy local, fresh goodness all year long.)
One of the many reasons I love the farmers market is the farm community itself. Let me tell you about our farmers, the people who lovingly grow the food my family eats.
First there are the two guys who sold us those strawberries in the picture. Young, hippy, "granola" types, just like my friends in college. I felt instantly at home chatting with them about their lovely berries. And they charmed Hobbes by telling him he could taste as many as he wanted before we bought them. How can I not love them?
Then there is the Midwestern woman who baked that yummy cream cheese braid in the picture. She owns a fantastic bakery in town and loves to share stories of her growing up years on a dairy farm as she doles out cinnamon rolls, empanadas, crossaints, and other goodies. She loves real butter and isn't ashamed to say so. And her pastries taste like it. Yum!
Of course, there is also the local, middle-aged couple with a small stand. They don't offer much, specializing in eggs, chickens, turkeys (at Thanksgiving), asparagus, honey, and homemade mustard. They send me an e-mail every week telling me what's going on with the farm animals and what they will have available on Saturday. I feel like I am a part of their farm, though I have never even seen it.
Then there is Calvin's and Hobbes' favorite, the cheese vendor who always gives them a sample, or two or three, of farmer's cheese, tells us about how happy the cows are these days, and suggests other farmers we should visit to make a recipe with the cheese.
Today I chose to buy my tomato plants from a young couple with two kids, a family run farm that I had never seen there before. They are about my age, and their homemade sign said the name of their farm and their names along with those of their kids. They have chosen a life of farming, they make their living through those of us who buy their crops and plants and homemade bread, and I can't imagine anyone I would rather support.
When I buy from that family or from any of the other almost 50 vendors at my market, I know I am supporting an important way of life, perhaps the most important. While I raise my children to appreciate the land that grows their food, I am helping these people to raise their children into the next generation of farmers.
No wonder it felt like coming home, these people are family. We share a piece of land and the fruits of its soil.