Community now, and then, and back again

“The farmers’ market has become the country’s liveliest new public square, an outlet for our communitarian impulses and a means of escaping, or at least complicating, the narrow role that capitalism usually assigns to us as “consumers.” At the farmers’ market, we are consumers, yes, but at the same time also citizens, neighbors, parents and cooks.” – Michael Pollan, from an op-ed in the New York Times Magazine, Oct. 10, 2012

That just about describes the Martin Farmers Market, held every Saturday, rain, shine or heat wave, from the first weekend in June to the last weekend in October officially, and adding in the Saturdays in April and May unofficially. (Some hardy farmers continue through the weather as it worsens in November as well, as long as they have any fresh produce.)

But to really get a definition of the Market, you have to come and be there yourself; not just one Saturday, 8 to noon, but several Saturdays. And this is the same for all the local Farmers Markets – the old cliché about seeing old friends and making new ones really does hold true at these destinations. Farmers ask customers about their work, their health, the new grandbaby; photos are shown, stories told and bonds begin growing as surely as the tiny shoots in the fields. When the person who helps you put good, nutritious, fresh food on your table is also asking about you and your family and watching their progress (albeit through photos and not direct experience), community grows stronger too.

Visiting your local farmers market not only provides the community with freshly grown and produced local products, but increases social connections, improves the local economy and provides much needed support for our area farmers.

Clear back to the Stone Age, the cave that had a fire and something to eat was the center of a small tribe’s world. Someone brought in the latest kill, another human brought berries, another carried edible leaves or nuts, and everyone ate. Of course, we can’t prove that actually happened without written records. But then when some ancestor scratched lines in the dirt and sprinkled in a few seeds – and they grew – that surely was the beginning of the community farm.

Gathering food, hunting, and preparing meals to share is as old as we are, as civilization itself. In this modern age, we just have to be sure that all eat at the table, set with a true welcome for anyone hungry.

~Food for thought.

                                                                                                            Terri Jenkins-Brady
Team Blogger