Meet the Market: Forging friendships at the farmers market

Every time I leave for the farmers market, I tell the family, “I’ll be back soon. I’m just going to grab a few things.”

They share a collective eye-roll. I won’t be quick. It’s probably a little after 8 a.m. and I won’t be back until afternoon. In truth, I don’t just go for the veggies (which are finally starting to show in force in this slowest of seasons, by the way); I will spend the rest of the day, well, talking with neighbors and market vendors. Some people go to church or to a softball game to commune with the community; I go to the farmers market.

And why not? For one, the Kingfield and Fulton farmers markets have the best baked goods in town, excellent coffee — iced, hot, or Thai — perfect fare while wandering around. When I finally do start meandering home I can pick-up some of the freshest locally grown produce around to take with me. This past Saturday, the take of the day was some little white green-top salad turnips from Uproot Farm. I love them roasted whole with just a little olive oil and salt. On Sunday, I took home frozen pizza dough proofed in Love Tree Farm’s cheese caves, ready to be thawed, topped and baked at home, and goat milk yogurt with blueberries from Singing Hills Goat Dairy.

But in the end, I probably spend time at the market because of nostalgia for a time and place when people embraced the benefits of the public square, more often partook of meals at a community or the family table. Maybe it’s a longing for real presence in an age where so many of our interactions with friends and neighbors are mediated, well, by media. The longer I have been involved with the market, the more I find I am not alone in seeking some connection with others there.

This past Sunday, one of our longtime vendors returned to market for the first time this season.  We hugged each other. It is great to see every returning vendor, but I was particularly pleased to see her. I stood in her booth and we talked for a long time. She had missed the bustle of the market. You see, her husband died suddenly at the end of last season. She shared with me what the off-season had been like: hard, too quiet. I told her that I too had grieved the loss and already missed not seeing her husband. He had often admonished me to use lots of compost in my garden when I complained that I couldn’t grow anything. If I could figure out how to compost I would surely take his advice.

When I began to move along to start my shopping, she thanked me for talking to her and for being a friend. To put a name on our relationship made me surprised at first. And then I was moved. Of course we were friends.  After all, friendships, as much as any other reasons, are why we keep coming back, week after week, year after year to the farmers market.

Fulton Farmers Market
49th & Chowen
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
May 21–Oct. 29
Follow on Twitter @fultonmarketmn

Kingfield Farmers Market
4310 Nicollet Ave.
Sundays, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
May 22–Oct. 30
Follow on Twitter @kingfieldmarket