Friday I visited the weekly farmers market in a small town neighboring ours. It is nothing on the scale of the market in Madison, WI, our neighboring large town, which is touted as the biggest in the country, but it struck me that there was something there besides local produce and farm goods that couldn’t be bought and is often lost in larger venues. Community! As I strolled through checking out the goods, I stopped at a particularly artful display of flowers and heirloom vegetable plants and realized the vendor, Deb, was a proprietor of a small antique store that I have had conversation with regarding organizing some cooking classes. She shared that she had a location that might work for classes and would love to focus on her heirloom vegetables, right up my alley! We exchanged cards with the promise of talking further. Further down the line I met Carol. She and I had met before when she visited our weekly knitting circle to talk about a spinning group she was starting. She and her husband raise sheep for wool which she processes and dyes and turns into beautiful hand-made items. They also sell meat and other related products. She is a blogger as well so we exchanged cards and agreed to visit each others sites. Two other women crossed my path who are also fellow knitters. One is Kerrie who with her husband, Shawn, carries on the tradition of bee keeping that has been in her family for generations. Her local honey is impressive and has been said to have many healing properties. She was quick to mention that Stephanie was down the way selling her organic vegetable plants ready for the garden. When I stopped to see her I got to meet her husband, Tony, who I had heard so much about and catch up on the news of their 18 month old son and her recent pottery studies.
I brought my camera that day hoping for a few photos of flowers but I got so much more. The Hmong farmers with their gorgeous display of spring harvest, bringing together cultures once separated by worlds. The soap vendor freely singing the praises of his wife’s kitchen chemistry. The Bauman family raising grass-fed meats who catered our wedding 13 years ago. He still remembered that we had several vegetarians present and had to make accommodations for them. I am sure this seemed like an anomaly for a meat man in the mid-west.
Community, bigger than one, is defined as the public, the nation, social unit, fellowship, neighborhood. It speaks volumes to me. It is sharing, a communion in support of the larger good. I went home feeling sated yet wanting more. We owe it to ourselves to renew our commitment to an effort that is bigger than one but supports us all. I urge you to guard and protect this precious resource of local efforts and the next time you visit your farmers market, approach with hearts and eyes wide open.