Get It While You Can

Posted by Laura Young on 07/05, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Get It While You Can

Red Raspberries from Moser's Garden Produce

Welcome to Laura Young, the newest contributor to the Local Food Journey blog! Laura is a goat farmer and horticulturist at Young American Growers in Centre Hall. She is also a vendor and organizer for the North Atherton Farmers Market. Welcome, Laura!

Many years ago, a dear friend gifted my husband and I the audio version of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle written by Barbara Kingsolver. I find that I never tire of listening to it. I always learn something new and am regularly surprised by something I forgot. It has become, for me, a one-stop shopping source for inspiration on the small steps we can continue to take on this local food journey of ours.

As a new contributor to this blog (providing notes and perspectives as a relatively new vendor and organizer of a local farmers market), I have been struggling with what to write and fussing over the idea that nothing felt quite right yet. Then, during my morning commute to work today, I heard the section in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle contributed by Barbara’s daughter titled “Get It While You Can,” and I felt inspired.

As farmers market vendors, we can occasionally get wrapped up in our own issues while planning and preparing for market each week. Maybe the truck broke and we don’t know how we’re going to get there, or the tent legs bent last week from wear and tear and we have to buy a new tent. Perhaps the crops were destroyed by some garden pest the week before, or an animal fell ill. Maybe the bees were stricken by Colony Collapse Disorder, or the pasta machine stopped working. It could be anything. At the end of the day, though, we somehow figure it all out and get ourselves to market each week. When we get there, despite any struggles we may have had throughout the week, we are reminded of why we go and are instantly re-inspired to keep farming, to keep creating and to keep coming. We do it for you – the customers.

With a food system in our country that enables grocers to provide any food at any time, regardless of its seasonality, it is easy to lose sight and perspective on what’s in season, or what seasonality even means when it comes to food. Market customers are special in this way. They know they can’t get bananas at a farmers market in central Pennsylvania. Even if they are disappointed, they understand why the early summer berries sell out so fast and why they are only available for a short time. They look forward with anticipation, plan menus, organize parties, and save their money for the garlic and heirloom tomato harvests because they know it’s a special time with flavors that remind them of their childhoods.

Essentially, our customers know to “get it while you can” and enjoy the bounty for that moment. It is this point, this practice, and this mentality that keeps small farms going, keeps farmers markets thriving, improves the quality and abundance of local food sheds, and most importantly helps to re-build community mindedness.

The “get it while you can” mentality is proof in the pudding that customers understand that crops don’t last forever. It also makes every last bite of those Honeoye strawberries taste so good, because it will be a year before you taste them again. Customers’ appreciation and support for food in season keeps us inspired to come back with great products, new ideas, and good local food to feed your families and souls.

In this way, farmers markets and the customers that support them become education centers for small farming. They help to teach everyone that we should eat what our land provides, when it provides it, and to “get it while you can.”

Ending on that note, the markets this week have been abundant with black and red raspberries. Get ‘em while you can!

Tags: movement |

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{name} Author: Laura Young

Bio: Farmers Market Vendor and Organizer | Goat Farmer and Horticulturist at Young American Growers | Business Analyst at Penn State

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