The sound of soft jazz rises up through the old windows of this building. It's Saturday and the local farmer's market has set up camp in town. I took the liberty of sleeping in this morning due to extreme exhaustion last night. It was date night and the hubs and I "took in a movie" as the old-timers used to say. It was a suspense thriller about survival in its purest form and, let me tell you, I needed a nerve pill or a stiff drink by the time I left the theater. But since I don't take nerve pills and I don't drink stiff liquor, I opted for the bed. That movie wore me slap out. So the soft jazz is a welcome sound this morning as I sip my cup of ambition. Apparently, like Dolly, I need all the help I can get.
The farmer's market every weekend in this small town brings out some of the best locals to offer their wares and creates in me some wonderful summer memories, also evoking some from childhood and my first experience with a farmer's market. As children, my sister and I would go to my paternal grandmother's house every summer for a week. Occasionally we would also visit my maternal grandmother for a couple of days during that same week. I couldn't tell you what year this memory was made if my life depended on it, but we visited my maternal grandfather at the state farmer's market while he peddled his goods. Now, I also couldn't tell you what he was selling if my life depended on it, but I remember the smells and sights of that market very vividly. Piles of okra and corn and tomatoes and beans overflowing into the aisles just waiting to be scooped up by the hungry consumers was such a colorful sight, and the smell of all kinds of melons rising above the crowd is one smell I will never forget. I remember the heat and humidity of South Georgia, and the farmers in their sweaty overalls as they worked tirelessly. The plain, utilitarian baskets used to gather and tote and organize all those freshly grown fruits and veggies are still one of my favorites till this day. That first experience with the farmer's market is a vision I will never forget and has remained a happy memory for me all these years. I have mentioned before that I remember my grandmothers "putting up" those beans and peas and corn during the summer so as to have fresh veggies in the winter. Some of today's kids don't even know what "putting up" vegetables is because everything is so easily accessible at the grocery store year-round now. That's certainly not a bad thing, but do our children and grandchildren even know where that food comes from? There's a really good chance it's not even grown in the U.S., but comes from Central America.
May I suggest a fun family outing for you and your family? Go to a local farmer's market on a Saturday and see what they're offering. Then buy something you know your family will love to eat and cook it up for them! I guarantee you it will be a memory they will never forget. Our local farmers need our support. I think sometimes we are oblivious to the fact that in the south there are farmers all around us who need our help to continue the profession that in some cases is third and fourth generation. And, I mean, what could be any better than a tomato or cucumber or pepper that is planted and harvested literally down the road from where you live? There is nothing more delicious in summer than a tomato sandwich on white bread with a generous dollop of mayo and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Summer tomatoes have a flavor that is simply non-existent in tomatoes purchased at the store in the dead of winter. So buying local not only helps the growers, it's better for you because it's fresher. It's a win-win!
Depending on the market, there's usually a wide variety of things offered. At our local Saturday affair, I have seen everything from the usual fruits and veggies to the unusual fruits and veggies. One Saturday, a sweet lady offered her cabbages for sale which were, I'm not kidding, the biggest cabbages I have literally ever seen; they were at least 12 inches in diameter. She instructed me that they would keep in the fridge if wrapped securely, and you just needed to slice off what you needed as you needed it. Needless to say, I didn't purchase a cabbage that day. I just don't need that much cabbage, and nothing makes me feel guiltier than wasting perfectly good food. I have seen products made from locally raised and sheered alpacas. I've seen homemade shortbread. And, besides the apparent favorite of those beautiful red orbs I love so much, probably my second favorite item to purchase is the flowers! It is a dream of mine to have a beautiful cutting garden one day so that I too can enjoy the love of growing and sharing something I help to nurture with my own two hands. But as long as I can find those perfect summer tomatoes and flowers grown by those who love it so much and who live in my neck of the woods, that is fine by me.
One Saturday morning when Hollie and Preston were visiting, Hollie took Preston down to explore the market. Most booths are carefully thought out as to how to attract the most customers. Some have elaborate signs and free samples. But this particular morning Hollie noticed one little man sitting in a single chair selling his tomatoes from a single basket. The tomatoes looked wonderful and she planned to return after perusing the offerings and purchase some. Maybe that was his strategy...everyone would buy from the little man with his lone basket because, when she returned to buy some, they were all gone -- no fancy booth needed! If you bring the goods, they will sell, fancy booth or not. The purpose of this little story? People are hungry for home-grown goods. So get in the groove with visiting your local farmer's market this summer and make some lifetime memories with those children and grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren. Or visit a local blueberry farm and pick blueberries. You never get too old to explore the farmer's market or pick blueberries!
I hear the thunder and the tree branches brushing my window as the raindrops began to fall. Bummer for the vendors below who are trying to make their living this morning in the great outdoors. But I'd be willing to say that not one of them is complaining. Because, as farmers, the rain is their friend and is welcome any day of this brutally hot southern summer.
Posted by CC
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