Managing a farmers’ market is not as glamorous as one might think.
There are ins and outs I never thought I would encounter in my lifetime. Fueling up and maintaining a diesel vehicle, becoming an absolute aficionado at ratchet straps, teaching someone how to start a generator, and knowing the correct kind of spray paint that will mark upside down. The “other duties as assigned” are certainly helping to make me a well-rounded person.
Despite my strange niche of recently acquired skills, I used to have all kinds of anxiety the night before a market. I would fret and overthink and worry about all the things that could go wrong. I would barely get any sleep on Friday nights because I would be so freaked out about the pressure of the market running smoothly the next day.
There are definitely endless things that can go wrong, for example:
The market van doesn’t start and I have to jump it at 5:45 in the morning, cars get stuck in the mud, I forget something at the office, vendors arrive late or not at all, the electricity goes out, medical emergencies occur, we run out of tokens, enforcing the dog policy makes someone angry, keys get locked in cars, somebody gets bit by a wild animal, tents break, volunteers get sick, I choose the wrong footwear and have wet feet all day, the portapotty door breaks, a severe thunderstorm rolls through, etc etc etc…
All of these things have happened. And the market went on. I learned a new thing navigating each circumstance, transforming from uncertainty to confidence as I rack up mistakes under my belt. I still have a regular amount of anxiety about regular life things, but the amount of worry the night before a market is less than it used to be.
I’ve come to realize that something will always go awry, but everything will always be okay. I am surrounded by a great team of people – market staff, volunteers and vendors – who will help in a heartbeat.
Here are the things that make it all worth it: watching a kid scream his head off in excitement about simply being at the farmers’ market, listening to a customer talk about their foray into backyard gardening, hearing a farmer describe their favorite way to prepare a vegetable and trying to replicate that in my kitchen, being gifted an apple by a customer because “it’s just that good,” and watching people I don’t even know find a connection with the source of their food.
I’ll continue to take the night before a market “scaries” and set my four alarm clocks on Saturday mornings because it really is all worth it.