My family comes from a long line of homesteaders, gardeners, and farmers. I grew up helping my dad in our garden. When I was a little older, I spent a couple summers working in my grandpa’s garden and learning how to cook from my grandma. While in high school and college I planted a few plants every year. However, it wasn’t until after college that gardening became a full-blown hobby of mine.
After graduating college I moved back home but had a hard time finding a job. I went from studying and going to class 24/7 to suddenly have a ton of free time. I started watching cooking shows and doing crafts to take up my time. Before I knew it I was cooking supper for my family a couple times a week. After I while I started broadening what and how I was cooking and even started experimenting with a few recipes of my own. By the following summer, I was able to find a few temporary jobs but still didn’t have anything stable. So I decided to go ahead and grow herbs and vegetables that I used or wanted to use when cooking. I bet we tripled the number of plant varieties we grew in our garden that summer. It didn’t take long to figure out that we would have more produce than we could use ourselves. Since I was struggling to make college payments I started looking into the local farmers’ market. I saw it as a good way to get rid of our extra produce while making a little extra money.
In August I finally made the leap to go ahead and set up at the farmers’ market and the rest is pretty much history. I was hooked from day one. It wasn’t like we made a ton of money and it actually involved a lot of hard work but there was just something about it that drew me in.
Growing up I was shy, quiet, and insecure. In college I finally felt like I was getting past that but I think being without a job for so long brought all those feelings back. I’m sure some people doubted that I would be outgoing enough to be successful at selling, myself possibly one of them. However once I was at the market and people started asking questions, questions I actually knew the answers to, it became second nature. It no longer seemed I was talking to a stranger but sharing information with a friend. It was almost like because we shared mutual interests that suddenly made us equals; I could learn something from them and they could learn something from me. There is something comforting about being around a lot of like-minded people. I realized fairly quickly that the farmers’ market wasn’t just a bunch of buyers and sellers coming together but a community. I was used to feeling somewhat like an outsider, but finally I found somewhere where I felt I actually belonged.
I put in a lot of hard work, late nights, and early mornings getting for market over the years. I can’t say I made much money but I gained so much. There has been multiple times when I was either stressed out, exhausted or even grumpy and my mom would ask if it was worth it. Each time I would look at her and say “Absolutely.” You see, the possibility of making a little might have led me to the famers market but finally getting a sense that I was where I belong led me to becoming a vendor. It turns out being part of my local farmers’ market means more to me than I ever could have imagined.