Farmer’s Market Freedom

Smiling faces. Friendly farmers. Fresh fruits, vegetables, honey and more await!

Throughout the course of the pandemic (or plandemic depending on who you talk to…) every community has gone through some serious changes. Mask mandates, store capacity limits, and COVID-19 news is still everywhere. So much has changed in such a short period of time that many of us crave a sense of normalcy, or our own private island.

Supply disruptions and shortages took all the paranoia out of the lessons our grandparents taught us. I finally understand why my grandpa bought an entire shelf’s worth of pickles when they hit a historically low price. The cost of has beef skyrocketed. Finding bags of flour to bake bread with is still a challenge in some areas. Just having a few extra canned goods makes everyone feel safer.

When walking into a grocery store or big box chain, the term “cattle” comes to mind. People are being herded in one end and directed through aisles until they’re shoved out the other side. It’s very confining. Thanks to the farming community, this is not the only option.

Visiting my local Farmer’s Market reminds me that we are still the land of the free. There is plenty of room for everyone to spread out and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Anyone who needs to wear a mask is welcome, just as those medically advised not to or who chose to abstain are also encouraged to come on down and see what the farmers have in store. Good manners and politeness are displayed all around.

My children are praised for helping me shop when they come with. I’m happy to bring them. It’s a family event that everyone deserves.

While concerts, sports games, state fairs, and other community gatherings were/and still are being cancelled in some areas, our Farmer’s Market remains open like a beacon of golden corn shining in the fields. There is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Baked goods are sold by people who use special ingredients like: love.

Dairy farms and grass fed meat producers give us the options we need when no one else can. These people are the true heroes of our communities. Farmers and the organizers who keep these markets going deserve much more than just our dollars. We owe them a lot of thanks.  

Maybe I’m biased. My maternal grandfather came from a family of farmers. My paternal grandparents were farmers, and though I was raised in a highly populated area, I’ve been getting back to my roots (all the puns intended) and backyard farming.

It is serious work. Every crop takes time and effort. Root rot and pests throw things off (as well as dogs who think ears of corn are play toys), but the more I try my hand at cultivating my own food, the more I appreciate the farmers who serve my area.

When I was a kid, hitting the road and visiting a farm to enjoy the delights of a pumpkin patch were a novelty. I helped on my great-uncle’s farm once or twice and treasured the jar of pennies he gave me for helping out. A school field-trip to Purina Farms taught me more than classroom lessons ever could. These experiences gave me first-hand knowledge of where my food came from that a lot of kids my age were lacking.

Despite these encounters, I had never ever heard of a Farmer’s Market until I reached my 20s. The connection between the cities and suburbs that relied on our farming communities was strained, if not broken. Government policies that aided factory farms and forgot family farmers set the odds against an age-old practice. Thankfully the seeds of curiosity were still there.

Those of us with some knowledge of the hard working farmers helped expand these wonderful events as soon as they gained publicity, and in return, we learned from each other. I’ve yet to meet someone who won’t offer a piece of advice when asked. Instead of being rushed through a conveyor belt line, conversations about food, family, and life organically grow.  

I’m no career farmer. Expanding my planting knowledge each season definitely makes me feel more connected to my ancestors, but supporting local farmers and enjoying Farmer’s Markets with my family has become a necessity. I doubt I could ever grow enough myself.

Waking up on Saturday morning to grab my bags and go see what’s ripe has become the highlight of each weekend. Instead of worrying about staying informed on new restrictions and recalls in supermarkets, I can take a nice walk along the booths. I have a direct link to the people who grow and raise my food. We get to know each other. There is a deeper respect in this connection that forms a strong bond.

That bond is where our country started. It’s what brings us together as a people. In times of uncertainty it is the individuals who reach out to others that ward off fear and make our land the “home of the brave.”

Stopping into a store for convince was the norm for most people before the pandemic struck. It is so easy to fall for marketing or follow a billboard. A great deal of the population had no idea where their food came from and plenty did not care so long as it was available.

Some good has come from the recent uncertainty. It’s challenged us all to think clearer, look ahead, invest our time and energy in those who provide for us. More and more people are supporting local farmers. I’m proud when I see new faces at my local Farmer’s Market. It’s not difficult to spot someone who has never been to one. They seem so surprised by the variety and freedom laid out before them.

The more people come, the more prosperous our farmers and local businesses are. These are the people who deserve our support.

From April through November, I have this haven to serve as a sanctuary from indoor shopping with stores that herald quantity over quality. My area has a nice growing season because I’m smack in the middle of the country. Up north it is shorter, just as down south it can last all year depending on where you go.

There is plenty of time for canning and preparing. When winter comes I’ll do what I have to do. Right now I am just grateful for the joys that my Farmer’s Market brings.

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