If you live in the Connecticut River Valley, you know that it is an area rich in agriculture. During this harvest season, I’m feeling particularly grateful for the abundance of small farms that sell their produce at local farmers’ markets. No doubt you have one near you?
I love to frequent farmers’ markets, and here’s why. Visiting a farmers’ market helps me feel more connected to three arenas of life that matter a great deal to me, and perhaps to you too: nature, community, and nurture.
When I visit a farmers’ market, proudly showing off the current season’s crops: the freshest local vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs, I feel more in touch with the natural rhythms of the year.
I relish the stunning beauty of thoughtfully displayed clusters of colors, shapes, and textures that vary by week, by month, and of course by season. Farmers’ markets remind me of huge painters’ pallets!
Last Saturday, I made my way through mounds of orange carrots and bunches of dark green collard, kale, and spinach. There were heads and bags of light green lettuce and Napa cabbage.
Then came bins of fiery red peppers, deep purple eggplant, and winter squashes of tan, orange, and green tones. Breath-taking bouquets of colorful flowers in shades of red, rust, blue, yellow, and white also caught my eye.
Whether I buy or simply gaze, I always leave a farmers’ market feeling energized by it’s concentration of natural beauty. It’s a shot of pure joy!
A farmers’ market also tends to be a community affair. At least that’s my experience, both here and in Takoma Park, Maryland, where my family lived before moving here.
When my kids were little, I’d wrap them onto my front or back, or pull them in a small red wagon, and walk a mile to the town square, where we’d run into friends, and friendly acquaintances, while shopping for the latest fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
When my family moved to the Northampton-Amherst area, one of the first places I visited to get a sense of the community was the farmers’ market.
Both in Maryland and here, live music and crafts created by local artisans add a festive atmosphere to the community spirit of the market.
When I want to find a special gift for a friend or family member, I look first at the farmers’ market for a jar of locally-produced raw honey, jam, or maple syrup, a wreath of dried flowers, or a carefully carved wooden bowl.
Most of all, I seek out farmers’ markets as a way to nurture my heart. I find pleasure, stimulation, and ideas there. I find inspiration for my kitchen and garden. And I feel really good about supporting our local farmers while nourishing my family.
When feeling sad, lonely, or stressed, the festive nature of a farmer’s market always helps me feel better. When my mother died in mid-September one year, visiting my local farmers’ market throughout that fall made a difference.
The truth is, though, no matter how I’m feeling at the outset, a farmers’ market always boosts my sense of energy and well-being.
Are you in the habit of visiting your local farmers’ market? If not, I urge you do try it out. See how doing so makes you feel.
How might a farmers’ market influence your connection with nature, your community, and the ways that you nurture yourself and your loved ones?