What a wonderful week it has been!
We love visiting farmers markets year-round. But Farmers Market Week is special. It’s during this week every year that we put the rest of our work on hold and just get out to markets to talk with vendors, market managers and community members.
Every market is unique — not just from the mix of products the vendors sell but also from the personalities and stories of the vendors, market managers and supporters. We will never tire of hearing their stories! There’s nothing like seeing a vendor’s face light up as they tell us about their business and how much they love what they do.
This week in our market travels we met a lot of incredible people …
- We met a 95-year-old farmer who is so committed to being able to continue gardening and selling at markets that he does everything possible within his means to stay healthy and not miss a market.
- We met a young woman who started baking at 14 to pay for college. She’s now a rising senior in college studying marketing and thinking about her next steps to continue as a vendor in the years to come.
- We heard stories from vendors who get so excited about coming to the market that they can’t sleep the night before. They love sharing what they’ve grown and can’t wait to connect with their market family.
- We saw kids run up and hug vendors as soon as they saw them. We heard a shopper in her 80s say “if I don’t show up one week, they call me to make sure I’m okay.”
- We met a chef who grew up in a restaurant family. He spoke about how proud his grandmother was of him. When she is well enough, she comes to the market just to stand off to the side of his tent to watch the people line up for her grandson’s food.
- We met a market manager who is so committed to making sure her vendors have the information they need to be successful that she spends hours working with them as they get their businesses started at her market.
- We heard from farmers about how proud they were that their children are going to take over their farms. We also heard from farmers who told us that this will be their last year at market because they don’t have anyone who’s able to take over their farms.
- We met vendors who banded together to start a market in their community because there wasn’t one. They alternate being the on-duty managers each market day while also vending.
- We watched market managers proudly point out members of their non-profit boards or town councils who were market regulars. They let us know how much that support meant to them and to the success of the market.
- We repeatedly heard from farmers who were thrilled to be in the Farm Market Fresh program because it means they’re able to feed more of their community. Vendors also praised their markets for offering SNAP and Virginia Fresh Match for the same reason.
And we could go on and on. The people we have met and the stories they have shared have charged us up for the rest of the year.
We extend a BIG thank you to all the farmers, producers, makers, market managers and community supporters who make Virginia’s farmers markets happen. We look forward to our next Farmers Market Week adventure with you.
~Kim Hutchinson & Mary Delicate
Virginia Farmers Market Association