To Market, To Market

It’s been a whirlwind of activity here, so the story of Saturday’s market has  been a little late in writing.

It was 4am Saturday morning when I schlepped my sleepy self down to the Mitsubishi with Matt and Mateo to head out to my first market. It was dark, rainy and cold, but I too excited to care.

It takes an hour a little less then two hours to drive from the farm into the city, and we showed up at Union Square before 7am. Because of the questionable weather, two stands to the right of us didn’t show, which gave us plenty of room to set up and me plenty of opportunities to try to document the transformation from sidewalk to farmstand below:

Here is our empty spot at Union Square. We were surrounded by other farmers and their trucks as they set up their own stands.

We start our set up by lying out our tent poles. Some other farms have pop-up tents they can set up in like ten minutes, but on a windy day apparently you can lose one of them pretty quickly. We have sets of 9 ft. poles and these angled cornered pieces that you need to line up with each specific pole location.

Once the poles are joined and attached, we drape and attach our green tarp across the roof. We’ve got an extra piece on the front for a shade tarp on sunny days, but without it the stand looked beautiful, as you’ll see shortly.

Once the tent is raised (something that involves my short self stand on all of my tip-toes, we weight the corners of the stand with sandbags. Hooray! From here, it’s produce time.

We keep some of our veggies in our black lugs and others in these cute, old-fashioned wooden crates. We stack and display in whatever way looks nice in the space.

Years of interns have accumulated these cute little laminated signs that sort of explain what everything is (they key word being sort of – but most of them look totally adorable).

We also set up three tables under the tent for our herbs, scales, cash registers and flowers.

And, of course, for Keith’s book and Table Magazine, in which he is a frequent contributor.

Our alliums go up front in a wooden crate display. The green garlic sold like wild, partly because the New York Times just wrote a couple articles about it.

Flavia designed these beautiful herb displays – we have two, and we need to restock them fairly frequently, but they are just the prettiest.

We create a center aisle for our bunched greens – and they sold like wild. Things like lambs’ quarters, which I hadn’t ever heard of until we picked them from the unplowed fields, and stinging nettle, which grows wild around the farm, sold like crazy.

And that, my friends, is how you set up a really accessible, adorable farmstand.

We sell some greens by weight, but most everything else are bunched beforehand for convenience. Keith has a plastic bag policy – the first is free, and subsequent plastic bags are $.05 each. People get a little annoyed, but that’s the price you pay to try to save the world, I guess. In a later post I’ll give a more specific breakdown of what we sell at any given market.

The day flew by. From the moment we set up and bought some breakfast from the Tamale Lady, I couldn’t stop looking around. We are set up on the north side of the market on Saturdays and the west on Wednesday, surrounded by other folks selling veggies, meat, dairy, cider, honey, and all sorts of delicious eats. Matt runs the stand every Saturday so he knew the day inside and out, but I think Mateo and I held our own as first-timers. And my dear friend from college, Kaitty Bergin, and two of my favorite Adams cousins, Michala Jebb and Jared “The Minister” Adams swung by at the end of the day, which totally warmed my heart.

There is a culture at the farmer’s market that is totally exciting as well. Keith has been there for 26 years, so folks from all over the city come bounding up to ask about him, to get your name, to ask how you are liking your season, to ask about former interns and workers. And the other vendors know each other, which brings a whole community feel to the market I hadn’t expected. I spent some time talking to Andrew, who runs the Eve’s Cidery wine stand on the west side and know other workers and Keith from years back. We talked about the state of the orchards post-frost and I walked away with an amazing bottle of wine on the cheap. If you can get at this place, New Yorkers, you need to be drinking this. And Jay and Matt have hookups like this across the market, which leads to free cheese and discounted chocolate milk. Go us.

Of course it was a long day. Of course it took me a little bit of time to get back in the swing of mental math. Of course it was a little overwhelming to be in such a huge city after weeks on Farm Island. But as the day progressed and the adrenaline never stopped pumping through my veins, I felt with every fiber of my being that I could live this life and go to bed feeling nothing but satisfied. Man oh man, I hope the next few years are as amazing as I’m imagining them to be.

-Farmer Liz


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