Friday, September 16, 2005
Getting much more than we pay for at the Farmers Market
There is no question that the harvest of fresh produce, eggs, cheese, meat, baked delicacies, honey, and herbal concoctions make the Saturday morning Farmers Market at Kimball's parking lot well worth a shopping trip. The market has been operating now since July 23, and if your table has not yet benefited from all this local bounty, it is not too late. The market will last as long as the harvests, or until October.
There is more to the Farmers Market than food, however — much more. In a town committed to its lack of retail and grocery stores, a movie theater, or even a gas station in order to preserve its rural character, it might seem difficult for people to run into each other informally "downtown." Over the years, however, Carlisleans have learned to venture out of their relatively isolated homes to gather for ice cream at Kimball's or Great Brook Farm or on the Town Common, at Ferns, at the library, on the playing fields, in Union Hall and Town Hall and at the Carlisle School to enjoy special interests and events and meet their fellow townspeople. And of course there is always time to chat with friends and neighbors at the transfer station. Perhaps it has become something of a habit for citizens to plan or to create social occasions spontaneously at recognizable locales in town, and the latest venue of conviviality is our new Farmers Market.
It begins with the "oohs" and "aahs" while admiring glossy tomatoes and eggplants or sampling cheese, cookies, and herb breads. There is nothing like food tasting to start a conversation. Then there is the music. One week, a young violinist of considerable talent entertained patrons of the market and started them recognizing the music, "I know that one!" and praising his abilities. For most of the Saturday mornings, John Foster of Nathan Lane has brought his antique reed organ as well as his produce to the market and amused the crowd with the organ's wheezy, calliope-like tones. Foster demonstrates more than his abilities as a local farmer: he has a business restoring and repairing antique organs, and can expound with expertise and enthusiasm on these instruments. There are always a few people gathered around him, enjoying his folksy manner and his music as well as his fresh produce, and chatting.
A few tables down is Arthur Veves of Rockland Road. During the week, Veves is an educational psychologist. On Saturdays, his fresh vegetables are an attraction equaled by the beautiful work he does caning chairs. He says caning is a hobby, but it attracts as many "oohs" and "aahs" as his plump and shiny vegetables. People gather to watch him and strike up conversations.
Chat, conversations, smiles, laughter, sensory satisfaction — there is nothing quiet about the Farmers Market. There is a palpable energy and spirit humming away, as early as 8 a.m. when the market opens, and there is always a story to hear. One early morning I ran into Kate Bauer Burke, whom I had not seen since she started a major renovation on her house. It was good to know that things are back to normal and she is busy driving her son to his various activities as usual. Another week, I recognized former UMass Lowell professor and author Linda Kistler, who confided that she is outlining another book, to follow Cause for Concern in her growing opus of crime novels. We chatted merrily about story lines while sampling some smooth and creamy Carlisle goat cheese, wedges of which, of course, we purchased. I went on to snap up a gorgeous plum tart to serve at a cookout and when another patron approached looking for a similar treat, we began a spur-of-the-moment conversation about the superiority of the baked goods at the market.
The point is that the Farmers Market is fun. It is a place that eschews frills, and yet manages to exude an atmosphere of comfort and abundance. It is a place where old friends meet, new acquaintances can share a laugh, and Carlisle demonstrates three of the qualities that make this town an extraordinary place to live: creative enterprise, enthusiastic support of local talent and real interest in one another. Certainly we get much more than we pay for at the Farmers Market.
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito