Life's a Garden, Dig It!
How old was I? I must have been at least in the third grade, but for sure by the fifth grade. I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings to make those last minute picks of the garden with my parents and riding in my dad's old squeaky pickup truck to the farmers market. The work I provided at the market was minimal. I mostly counted change and sacked produce for the customers. On the days when I didn’t get out bed at 6am, I rode my bike up to the market. It was crucial for me to work at the market, because if I worked "hard enough" my parents would reward me with a pepperoni pizza bagel and a Dr. Pepper from the “Bee Man.” That's all it took for me to get out of bed on those Saturday mornings. At that age nothing else matter.
The “Bee Man” sold his the jars of honey at the local farmers market and cared for several strategically placed beehives in the area. He even installed an observation hive in our window sill so we could watch the bees make honey comb. My sisters and I had a contest to see who could spot the Queen Bee first (note: she is bigger the rest). He was a kind man in his late 60s that really did have the most delicious honey! But, he also carried a cooler full of cans of Dr. Pepper and Coke that only vendors could purchase for $.35. I think he sold me more sugar in a can than in a jar. Go figure.
I’m sure I drove my parents crazy constantly running around the market, but in the midst of the mayhem some learning took place. I remember learning work ethic by picking the garden on Friday nights with the family. I remember learning marketing strategies by presenting the tomatoes and peppers in appealing ways to attract customers. As I mentioned earlier, counting change really helped my math skills, and interacting with adult customers made me more sociable. And there were other kinds of learning too. I remember when one of the older kids asked me if I wanted to ride bicycles with him. I felt sooo cool. I remember one time playing in the dirt under a big tree and finding a penny from 1897. Weird huh? These memories and many more formulate a significant part of my childhood.
I’m excited to see that buying produce from local farmers is becoming more popular throughout the U.S. A new crop of farmers is springing up through out America, which is even transcending the generation gap. The organization I work for sponsors a contest called
in which people can cast votes for their favorite market. All this is highlighting the growing local foodie culture and buying local movement. I, for one, am a fan. I encourage everyone to visit their local farmers market to buy some fresh produce and know where your food is coming from. Also, take the time to get to know the farmers that wheel in their produce every weekend. Maybe even take the time to be nice the kids working behind the booth. And remember, Life’s a Garden, Dig It.
Anthony Bourdain: Farmers Market