I shop at a very large farmer’s market in Gladden, “out in the middle of nowhere” as it were. It’s huge with 40 vendors at the height of the season and it’s open three nights a week from May until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
I sat in the back seat of one of my dad’s vast cars as we drove there when I was growing up, and the drive out there and the market, and my enjoyment of both, haven’t changed much since then. A glimpse of horses or cows or a farmhouse lit by the golden early evening sunlight and nestled on the gently rolling hillsides is still just as exciting. Even now, the crowds of people earnestly shopping for their produce, the conversations flying back and forth over the tables of produce and products between the farmers and the customers, the smells of the cooked food and the sound of the clanging kettle at the kettle korn stand are so familiar that I miss it when it’s over and long for it in the spring.
Even though the place is at a desolate intersection on a four-lane highway, beginning this year I’ve sat in line at the left-turn light for up to fifteen minutes to get in, even almost two hours after the market has opened for the evening. I don’t mind—in fact, I’m glad of it because it means more and more people are shopping there. For many years I couldn’t find any markets and couldn’t make it to this one very often at all, but now they’ve sprung up everywhere and seemingly every community has its market every week for most of the summer.
I’m glad to see people taking advantage of good food grown locally, and it seems they take the food more seriously when it’s sold to them by the very people who planned the crops in the winter, planted and tended the plants through unpredictable weather, harvested and cleaned and packaged and brought it to the place for sale. I sometimes wonder how farmers do it, especially when they often have day jobs to make ends meet, as if farming isn’t enough of a day job already. I like to look at the person who’s done all that work mostly for my benefit and smile and say “thank you”, and if they think the thanks is just the formality of a small business transaction, I know better. Read about two of the oldest farmers I know of who have been there for decades.