Andy and I are blaming it on the polar vortex. We sat around, eating (and drinking) huddled by the wood stove, discussing ideas great and small. One of them was transforming an old warehouse on Main Street into an indoor Farmers Market. I am a meat neophyte (Andy says meat illiterate because I still don’t understand the difference between breakfast and dinner sausages). As a lifelong vegetarian I agreed to eat meat when I met Andy over five years ago with certain conditions. It needs to be purchased from a neighborhood farm, humanely raised, grass-fed, and more. But, even though this is farm country, it is not always easy to find. Andy has driven all over Delaware county to find a chicken (or lamb, beef) that I would eat, and is probably why this market was appealing to him the most. And so, the farm market project began.
Cleaning out the five thousand foot warehouse was perhaps the easiest part. The hundreds (or so it seemed) wooden pallets were left outside in batches, with a big wooden sign that read FREE. Miraculously, the pallets (and Sign!) would disappear. Other items were not as easy such as thousands of painted wooden pens. My directive was to not take anything that could be up-cycled to the dump (at this point, Andy understands or at least obliges me in my eco ways). I wanted rough cut posts and beams placed through out the space to give it a barn-like-vibe. (Our contractor also no longer questions my radical ways.) We needed to cover the oil tanks and create stairs to the bathrooms that would meet code, which I had fabricated with straw looking particle board. I hung industrial string lights and set up a killer sound system. Andy made large chalkboard signs for each vendor framed with old horse fencing on our property. We placed lots of ads for vendors and crossed our fingers..
The market has been open since May and is an overwhelming success!
Not only do we have fantastic farmers with fresh meats, there are cheeses (including an artisanal vegan cheeze that is delicious), organic produce galore, breads, a winery, a gluten free baker (in addition to the famous ‘farmers wife’ pies) and more! In the beginning we had a phenomenal chef create sumptuous tastings from our vendors products (who has since been hired to cook in a charming restaurant because of her exposure). We keep growing organically (a pun) with various farmers seasonal produce. The most gratifying aspect of this market is the community response. The feel-good energy is felt by everyone who comes in (or so I’ve been told numerous times while hugging them..)
It was important for me (always going a bit further in green and heartfelt ways) to also make this a ‘mission market’. Folks have donated real mugs for coffee and mason jars for lemonade as a response to my request to keep trash (and plastic) to a minimum. I am having a huge wall created (when we have enough money) with a sign that reads ‘All The Dirt‘ as an information board for all farm food related resources. I have lecturers lined up to speak about the importance of supporting our local farm community. We can host square dances, ho-downs and movies. I am making ‘Farm. Food. Fun.’ carry bags.
Andy and I are thrilled (and exhausted) from taking on this project, and sometimes look at one another and say ‘what a long winter it was’ (smiling).