What’s so great about a community market? What can you get from local vendors that you can’t find at a big grocery store? If you are searching for lots of things on lots of shelves, you may want to just keep going to the store. However, if you are looking for selections of unique items, like Inadu Farm’s natural grain breads, you are going to have to stop by and visit the neighbors on Saturday morning.
A community market allows you to meet the person who grows, harvests, and prepares the food you will put on your table. Before I moved to a small farm, I loved shopping at tailgate or farmer’s markets. I could ask questions about the food, it’s taste, it’s variety. I felt I was getting something a little more special than the tomato shipped from another state.
As a vendor, I love it even more. Granted, it is a lot of work – harvesting and cleaning produce for Saturday morning. It means late Friday evenings and early Saturday mornings. Rain or shine, things need to be picked and readied. But market day is a great day. I like being able to answer questions, talk about the weather, and exchange recipes. Customers love to tell me what they made with the produce they bought the week before. We swap stories about what our kids are doing, how our gardens are growing, and the latest antics of the resident black bear (he’s been raiding chicken houses lately…). The honey producers swap stories about their hives (not all sell at market, but quite a few vendors have hives at home). The egg vendor shares information with others who have chickens, and is a great source of information on the Mountain State Fair. Political discussions remain polite. Weather is a main topic. I find it interesting that many of our customers have gardens of their own. They ask our advice on growing and brag about how well their own plots are doing.
Our market is a community market, filled with neighbors and friends. Children play on the swing set and in the creek. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcomed. And we have lemonade!
Our little market is hitting its stride as more vegetables and fruits ripen. Bread and other baked goods are always in demand. And have you tasted the honey from Bee Tree Farm? The Riceville Tailgate Market is more than a place to shop, it’s a community get-together each Saturday morning.