The farmers market warm fuzzies

Kingfield after
Watching as an empty parking lot is turned into a bustling space of community and local commerce is one of the things that gives Neighborhood Roots market manager Sarah Woutat what she calls the “farmers market warm fuzzies.” Submitted photos

The first time I sold at the Kingfield Farmers Market in 2015, it was one of the first few markets of the season. I brought plant starts and early season veggies — and I cried. I cried standing at my booth watching community members reconnect after a long, reclusive winter. I cried watching kids dance to the music at the market and run around free in a place in which they were clearly at home. It was amazing. At that point I had already been selling at Fulton for four seasons and had managed to forget about the farmers market warm fuzzies.

They were reignited recently at the Neighborhood Roots markets in a different way. I am no longer a vendor, but I am now the manager of the Fulton, Nokomis and Kingfield farmers markets. It is now my job to manage day-to-day logistics and to engage with community members in a different way. I now know what goes into curating a market, and putting together all of the tiny-but-important pieces that must come together for 64 market days each outdoor season. In this new role, I also have more of an opportunity to appreciate that sense of community that manifests itself at a neighborhood farmers market.

Kingfield before
The parking lot before the market

Walking around the farmers market, the warm fuzzies can overtake me at any moment: When I see a family on their way to the market join a yoga class at Fulton, and then hear that they didn’t realize it but their family just needed to move together that morning. Or when I hear from vendors how excited they are about the success of “x” crop and how great they felt after an awesome market day. Or when I have customers offer to bring me books about dealing with 3-year-olds. Or when I read books during story time at Fulton and get to know the kids who come week after week by name. Or when I see Emma, our assistant market manager, run into and reconnect with people she’s known through her work in political activism or at a dog-rescue facility or through another part of her life. Or when I have community members come up to the info booth and say, “I love this market! How can I become more involved?”

Three times a week our neighborhoods turn empty parking lots into bustling spaces of community and local commerce. It’s a big deal, and thank you for making it happen!

The community that is cultivated at farmers markets is tangible, and feeds us all.