By the time most of you arrive to the Library parking lot on Saturdays, our lovely farmer’s market is up and running and perfectly picturesque – as if the billowing tents, overflowing produce bins and vintage chalk board signs, gently floated down on a burlap carpet from a big farm cloud in the sky.
Ha ha ha.
You should see us, volunteers and committee members, scurrying about the parking lot at the crack of dawn each Saturday, rushing to unload vendors as they arrive so as to make room for 35 trucks and vehicles that need to drive in, unload and drive out – in a 90-minute time frame.
Gentle? No. Entertaining, yes.
First, there’s the Palisades. Unless you are an early riser and lucky to live on the river, this is the best place to see these beauties in all their glory – shifting colors and shadows week to week. Fall is when the morning volunteers systematically stop, in awe, to admire them before they roll up their sleeves and get to work. Most mornings a resident mockingbird joins in, echoing their praise. And, most mornings, Jonathan, who sells for Bread Alone, in turn, mimics the mockingbird.
“Work” involves helping Tiny Hearts, for example, unload all those buckets of flowers, from Bleeding Hearts to Cosmos and Dahlias from the back of a Subaru Impreza. That’s right. The hatchback.
I’m just waiting for the folks at Subaru to catch on and use Tiny Hearts for their next ad campaign. How they are able to fit so many buckets of gorgeous flowers and tables and tents in that tiny car is a minor miracle that reoccurs every week. (Due to an early, unexpected frost in Copake btw, Tiny Hearts won’t be at the market this week).
Unloading the pickle truck requires more brawn. A love of brine doesn’t hurt either since you are likely to end up with pickle juice on your clogs or sneakers. Not for the faint of heart.
The tents vendors use are called “pop up ” tents. The most popular brand is EZ-UP. Misnomers all around. Each tent has its own particular idiosyncrasies — be it a hobbled leg that requires twig “pegs” to keep it standing or a canopy that is too small for its frame. Volunteers have seen it all. Fortunately, they are great problem-solvers which comes in handy when someone shows up with a 12 foot tent instead of a ten foot tent – wreaking havoc on our ridiculously tight, inflexible layout.
The volunteers take it all in stride. The perks, you see, are endless. Not only do you get to see what will be at market before anyone else but you get to reserve your eggs and mozzarella (always at a premium) for later purchase. Also, volunteers get to wear a name tag which gets them significant discounts at most stands. And the farmers get to know them by name which always feels good.
Here’s what Kris Oser, a longtime volunteer has to say about being a volunteer at the market: “The Farmers Market is our showpiece, our village square, our best selves, our community. To help make that happen every week is one of the blessings of my life. I like that I play a vital, tangible role in making something good happen for my neighbors.”
Truth is, our volunteer crew though mighty, is small, and, occasionally likes to sleep in on a Saturday. We need more of them. And, just to be clear, you don’t have to be an early bird to volunteer at the market. We offer mid-morning and afternoon shifts, too. And not all tasks require brute strength or a logical mind: we need folks with pretty handwriting to write our specials board each week, too. And, we need folks to sit at the market tent and answer questions while I run around making sure dogs are on leash, vendors get coverage for a loo break, and a shopper making ratatouille for the first time knows what to buy.
Market volunteers get to be part of a pretty amazing market “family” that just keeps on giving – and growing. This week, for instance, we are happy to welcome TWO new guest vendors: Hudson River Apiaries (yes, finally, a new honey vendor that is also hyper-local – — within Westchester County). Take that fall allergies!
And, Southtown Farms, a small farm in Mahwah, New Jersey that has free-range, organic but not certified, chickens and eggs as well as pork.
See you at the market, where I hope you will sign up to help for a shift or two before we move indoors. Hopefully, you will get the market bug and become a regular at our 2015 outdoor market next season.
Our music this week: Local troubadour Matt Turk who has a new album out called “Cold Revival ” that is getting rave reviews. Come enjoy the music and pick up a c.d.