This content origionally appeared in "All That Jazz", my weekly column with the Siloam Springs Her
I fell in love with Farmer’s Markets when I read a Barbara Kingsolver novel about her year of living off only what she could produce herself. I finished “ Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” full of zest. I was raised in a family that gardened, canned, and preserved food. My Grandma’s Lite Bread was the stuff of legend and she somehow always had amazing peach jam at the ready. I was ready to combine the inspiration of Barbara’s novel with the tradition my grandmother instilled in me: grow your food, make good meals, live in season, and take care of farmers. My fondest memories were watching my Grandma Mayfield hunched down caring for her July watermelons. She always wore the same slip on shoes and the same tattered apron. The blue and pink flowers were so faded that from afar they appeared to be polk dots. The front pockets were always filled with gardening flotsam, and it wasn’t unusual to reach in her pocket and find random potatoes and Banana Peppers (her favorite veggie) shoved inside. The inspiration of Kingsolver’s novel quickly intersected with the reality that I was a student, with children, a job, and limited energy. Rock meet hard place: I wanted to live “this way”, but “this way” was very time consuming and carried risk of not being able to feed my family. Squash bugs, my arch nemesis, I learned could easily over run my small organic garden and freak Arkansas snow storms quickly damage tender sprouts.
Years after reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, my family and I find ourselves adapting what Kingslover offered as a way to live. We support local, we grow our own food, mostly eat in season, make what we can, and frequently find ourselves motivated to not purchase what we couldn’t make ourselves. It can be hard way to live if you are legalistic, so we give ourselves room to eat tomatoes in Winter (though the store bought kind will NEVER be the taste explosion a homegrown tomato is!).
People frequently ask what our secret weapon to living this way is. I always have the same answer. FARMER’S MARKETS! Farmer’s Markets are seeing a resurgence and I am thankful for communities like Siloam Springs that invest in the markets to help them thrive.
In our fast paced world, it can be hard to dedicate the time that is needed to tend your own garden, bake your own breads, and live in season locally. This is where farmer’s markets are amazing. One trip on a Saturday morning, and you’ll find the most beautiful produce and goods. Tent after tent is lined with creativity, love, and people who truly are proud to be farmers. Siloam Springs was, and is in part still, a farming community.
Farmers built this town and created opportunities for all of us to live in a beautiful community. When food went to live in the grocery story display aisle, it became easier to forget the faces of the people who were making the foundational ingredients to our diets.
When your farmer doesn’t have a face it is easy to take for granted that someone put sweat and toil into what you are blessed to have. Just the other day I got to shake the hand of the woman who grew the apples that went into my children’s applesauce. Bringing food back to person to person relationships is a better choice for our families and our community.
If you haven’t stopped by the Siloam Springs Farmer’s Market you are missing out. Main Street Siloam Springs is doing a phenomenal job of cultivating an amazing farmer’s market for our town.
Let us be more intentional about respecting our local farmers and supporting local businesses and craftsmen. Take the “All That Jazz” Farmer’s Market challenge with me! Here are the guidelines: Take a day to go to the Siloam Springs Farmer’s Market and find an ingredient. Create a new recipe around that ingredient and then send a letter to the editor or email it to me at Jasmine at TheBrokins.com. I’ll post the recipes on my blog, and your letters will be in the “Letters To the Editor” section of the next Herald Leader. Lets get our community involved in supporting our farmer’s market! We’ll all be better for it. Barbara Kingsolver and my Grandma Mayfield will be so proud of us.
Hey readers! How do you use the Farmer's Market? Have you ever been to one? What is your favorite part?!