We live in a valley that is nearly saturated with farm stands and farmers’ markets. I frequent a few stands, mostly for asparagus and corn. For the weekly market though, I have a definite preference. I won’t say which one as it might generate an angry letter from said farmers – they don’t want people fleeing just to avoid me. I will say that it takes place on a weekday and, despite being nestled between a parking garage and a parking lot, feels like a village common. I suspect it’s the open space in the center. Most markets have stalls lining a rather thin corridor. This leaves me feeling claustrophobic – and oddly as if I’m in a grocery store.

Before I go any further I’ll just out myself as a proponent of the apostrophe on “farmers” when it modifies market. I believe the market belongs to the farmers. A “farmers market” sounds like one might be able to purchase one of said farmers. Serio’s Market was founded by Joseph Serio in 1902; it’s his market (or at least was). Whereas the stock market is a place to buy stocks and Whole Foods Market is where one goes to lose money. Actually that’s true of the stock market as well.

Of course in early May there’s not a lot of produce at a farmers’ market. But what produce there was looked great: turnips, carrots and the reddest radishes imaginable. There were baby greens of all sorts. I went home with a bag of the latter despite already having greens in my garden.

This bounty was supplemented with all sorts of prepared foods. I wanted to get a cup of coffee, but the line was too long. There was something that appeared to be a wood fired pizza oven on a trailer (only in America), and of course lots of baked goods, meats and cheeses. Perhaps it is the presence of these types of vendors that have led the managers of this market to eschew the “farmers’” appellation altogether. At first I thought it was fear over offending someone by inappropriate apostrophe use.

Despite the slip up with the greens, I wasn’t there to buy pre-grown food, I needed some plants. I’m ashamed to say that some of my onions had wilted for an as of yet unknown reason and I wanted to plug holes.

I showed up trailing one of the boarders who had jumped school early to go to the dentist. His mouth was half numb from Novocain and he was treat trawling. He succeeded in wedeling a 25 cent honey stick out of me.

We circled the stands looking for the healthiest plants. The onions I found were all a bit old and overgrown for their pots. Some looked a bit pale as if they could use some nitrogen. Who am I to talk: at least these onions were alive.

So I found the nicest bunch, impulsively grabbed some oregano and thyme and headed to pay my money. Said boarder looked at me incredulously, “you can just BUY plants”? Rubbing salt in the wound apparently comes naturally. He’d suddenly realized that I spend all this time planting seeds in the basement in February and March when I could just buy the plants. Pretty soon he’s going to think this whole gardening thing is just a hobby.

Caleb Rounds

Author: Caleb Rounds

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