This time of year is hard. It’s dark, it’s gloomy, the days are short, and I’m cold all the time. To top it off, market days are few and far between and the work of a farmers’ market manager changes drastically.

Just like a farmer, the job of a market manager shifts in the winter to focus on planning, visioning for the next season, setting goals, and developing strategies.

I’ve often thought that one of my least favorite parts of my job is the planning. I’d rather be at the market, rolling out and participating in the action, enjoying the fruits of my labor. Sitting in a chair, looking at a computer screen, analyzing numbers and sending emails is low on my list of favorite pastimes.

While these things are very important components to getting the job done and making the markets the wonderful things that they are, they are not my forte, and that is fine. Life can’t be cookies and scones all the time.

The important thing is putting in the work to build the framework to make the year ahead a successful and enjoyable time for everyone.

On this 28th day of January, I sit here in my office chair, with terrible posture and a cramp in my leg, reminding myself of the importance of this behind the scenes work. While it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel of winter, I keep foraging on – and planning things like the beloved tomato tasting reminds me that soon enough, I will be sweating through my shorts at Howe Meadow.

On the docket this week for market management staff are reviewing applications for Howe Meadow, developing priorities for our 2020 market season, setting goals (both metric and performance), defining our professional development opportunities, investigating community outreach ideas, reviewing budgets, making wishlists for interns and special projects, presenting our plans for market events and special programs, dropping off cookbooks leftover from our recent swap, attempting to fix the dilapidated banner at Old Trail School, touching base in staff meetings, and researching ways we can support farmers and reach customers.

This all wouldn’t be possible in one week during the thick of the market season, so even though staying focused this time of year is hard for me, the balance of it all really does add up.

Three years ago, when asked what I thought a farmers’ manager does during the winter season, I don’t think I would’ve had a clue. But today, I’m aware and grateful that the season slows down enough for us to put in the planning to make our markets the best they can be.

Here’s to the year ahead, of making the markets bustling, and putting in the work to connect people, food and land.