The downside of convenience and the anticipation of the first fruit
I grew up in Westlake before it became the land of mini-mansions. I distinctly remember a cow running loose through our backyard and a cowboy on a horse, lasso spinning over his head, in pursuit. Maybe part of my memory is shaded by the romance of childhood, but the cows most distinctly were living a few houses away and they did sometimes get loose. Our backyard led to abandoned grape fields formerly owned by Welsh’s. There were early raspberries growing wild that would supply the children of the neighborhood with sustenance while they explored the wooded areas. We had favorite grape vines that we could swing on and in the late summer enjoy eating the concord grapes.
My mother had a great garden too. She grew any manner of vegetable and served them fresh on the table. I don’t remember feeling much appreciation for the fresh vegetables at the time, to be honest. Let’s face it; they don’t have the memorable sweet and juicy cache of raspberries or grapes collected from the wild. But, I do remember worrying the corn to grow as July rolled around. I remember that bitter sweet anticipation of the first ear of corn to be picked and boiled and served with lots of butter that dripped down my chin.
Well, those times are gone. I no longer have to wait for raspberries or grapes or corn. I no longer experience of anticipation of the taste of the first fruit to ripen. I no longer thrill as the juice drips down my chin. You see, that delightful expectation is no longer necessary. I now live in a world of convenience.
This world of convenience allows me to purchase corn in the dead of winter, to find strawberries and raspberries whenever I might desire them. I can buy grapes that are transported thousands of miles from far away and exotic countries like Chile, strawberries and corn from Mexico. But somehow the exotic appeal of these places does not satisfy my longing for that childlike anticipation of the taste of the first fruit.
Well, don’t be fooled by the biblical overtones of the last statement. I am sharing all this to perhaps shed light on what I am doing lately. The folks at Shore Cultural Centre decided that they wanted to re-create the Euclid Farmers’ Market. They wanted a market that was devoted to local producer/vendors. They asked an experienced market manager to come in as a consultant. They established the criterion for vendor participation and types of products to be sold, agreed on an application process and a new time. Then I was asked to manage the Euclid Farmers’ Market this year.
Certainly, you can understand the appeal of the project. Local produce means anticipation of the first fruit. It means shared recipes for strawberries and zucchini string beans. It means to me a community that can come together in the appreciation high quality, delicious food. It means supporting business here at home, perhaps creating jobs for people here. Now, I could talk long and hard about the consequences of NAFTA on business and jobs here at home. But let’s leave it to this; NAFTA has made the purchase of strawberries in February very convenient.
The downside of a producers-only farmers market is that it is not always convenient. We can’t buy what we want at a whim. We have to wait for the fruits and vegetable to grow and ripen. We become more interested in weather, if that could be possible. Our recent spring has been very hard on local farmers. I spoke with one farmer who will be selling organic produce at the Euclid Farmers’ Market in July. She and her family had to pull nine rows of corn that tasseled before any cobs formed. She said they planted 50 pounds of fava beans that rotted in the field. She was apologetic when I spoke to her. She knows what produce means to the success of a market. Frankly, my heart breaks for her, as this is her livelihood. Another local vendor will have produce ready in July. He is excited about the zucchini and cucumbers he will have to offer.
The Euclid Farmers’ Market will support the efforts of local farmers. We will not have vendors who go to the food terminal and sell same Texas corn that is sold in Dave’s or Giant Eagle.
We made some other changes. We moved the market from the front parking lot to the Babbit Road side of the building for a variety of reasons. First, customers had to compete with the vendors for access parking. Children from the daycare were running through the traffic to meet with their frustrated parents. Third, the parking lot is very sunny and hot. After a couple of hours, the produce was withered and unappetizing. Fourth, people who require accessible parking and pathways to the vendors were frustrated by the lack of either.
The Babbit Road area will provide parking to the north and south of the vending area. There are handicapped parking spaces and sidewalks surrounding the entire area. It is shaded in the late afternoon and so will help to preserve the produce. There will be no unsafe conflict between cars and children.
As the season rolls on, Euclid Farmers’ Market will have herbs, fruits, vegetables, local honey, maple syrup, cheese and continue to supply all your bakery needs. You’ll find dinner prepared for you. We will have cooking demonstrations and live entertainment. We will have activities for children. We are planning other demonstrations that feature the talents of our community.
The Euclid Farmers’ Market is small this year, but we will grow with your support. I hope that you can set aside the expectation of convenience. Come to the Euclid Farmers’ Market and experience the anticipation of the taste of the first fruit.
I am a member of the Euclid community. I am currently managing the Euclid Farmers Market. I am a baker of great whole grain breads.