Friday, October 6, 2006
Behind the scenes at Farmers Market
It is 5:30 p.m. on Friday and the Farmers Market at Kimball's is tomorrow. What have I got to bring? Can't be competing with the Foss farmers; complementing their bounty would be more appropriate. What did people tell me they were looking for last week? What do I have a surplus of that the market-goers will want (and how much )? It is time to be headed home for dinner. Too late for the afternoon pick-list; so let's see what we've got.
Into the walk-ins: we've got crates of collard greens. Nobody else will have them and nobody will want them so that would be a no. Same for lemon cucumbers, cauliflower, Red Russian kale, and "Cuoro di Bue" stuffing tomatoes. Let's try a variety of lettuces — the Fossers are having a tough year with lettuces so we can augment sales there. A mix of slightly esoteric summer squashes, eggplant and peppers is usually reliable. I can probably move 20 pounds of heirloom tomatoes and a dozen pints of oddball cherry varieties. At least somebody will talk to me even if they leave empty handed. Getting into their heads is important also. The weather should be good and the location is prime. Maybe we'll have a good day.
Saturday morning: The early dawn is glorious — warm with a fresh breeze. Even though this is Carlisle, we can hope for a good turn-out today. The market opens at 8. It takes an hour to set up and I have some stuff to wash before I am ready. Annette is baking for the market; I need a table and a few other necessary items that I will borrow for the morning or haul out of the barn. Best get going.
The market is like one big family
I am usually one of the first to set up. I always set up in the same spot and have the same vendors to my right and left. The market is like one big family where everyone seems to understand something tacit about how the morning will shake out. It usually reminds me of the morning milkings as a child, when the cows came in off the night pasture and each went to its own stanchion, no matter in what order they came into the barn. It is as if there was some cosmic order to how each of the girls lined up. And so it is with us.
Eventually the customers start dropping by. Many come to shop, a few mostly to visit. I usually manage to sell nearly everything I bring, simply because over the past two seasons, I have learned that folks in Carlisle live from meal to meal, don't cook a whole lot, are interested in food more as art and less as a staple and Saturdays sports take precedence over procurement. More importantly, I believe that the Farmers Market serves an important social purpose as well. I have met and learned to appreciate a number of people in town that I would otherwise never have gotten to know. Anything I missed in Friday's Mosquito will be revealed. At noon, I pack up and go away, satisfied that I have done okay by trying to do good. Works for me. Thanks for coming by! See you next week?
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito