On the Other Side of the Table

Well, I worked my very first farmer’s market today. I was up at 4:00 this morning, and was surprised to notice that daylight was creeping over the edges of the horizon at the lake. The sky had that beautiful, electric light blue hue just before dawn. And it was warm, with a refreshing summer breeze coming through the windows. So it wasn’t all that difficult to drag myself out of bed when I had a morning like that waiting for me. The market I worked is a busy, bustling suburban market with a lot of vendors. Nothing like a trial by fire initiation! I arrived a little later than I had planned due to the perils of public transit, but had enough time to get acquainted with my co-workers and the amazing produce we were offering. Our stand had 5 varieties of lettuce, rainbow chard, pea shoots, kale, green onions, red green onions, mustard greens, dill, oregano, chives, sage and small and large flower bouquets. Window shoppers show up well before the opening at 7:00, so there is a rush as soon as 7:00 rolls around with eager shoppers filling their baskets. It’s been quite some time since I’ve done cash handling and math in my head on the spot, but I’m glad to say that I didn’t make incorrect change or undersell anything. I had a really good time interacting with everyone. It was nice to talk to the customers, sharing recipes and answering questions.

As the new girl, when things slowed down after 10:00 (we’d sold over half our produce by then!) I was the first to go home (there were four of us working a small stand). A half shift on my first day was a good initiation though. I came home bone tired, but it was tired in a good, new way. It definitely wasn’t the comatose exhaustion I feel after a day at the office and a long commute during rush hour. It was a satisfied tired, with muscles feeling like I’d been active and working all morning instead of glued into an office chair. It was a great feeling. So I got home and had some pasta salad for lunch and settled in for a nap (I’ll get used to 4:00 a.m. eventually!).

They invited me back to work additional markets with them, so I guess I didn’t do too bad. 🙂 I enjoyed it, and I’m glad to have the affirmation that I actually enjoy the work and am capable enough of doing it (though it definitely couldn’t hurt to continue to practice making change). So, it’s just the very beginning, but I’m glad and excited to be on the path to having my own farm one of these years.


3 thoughts on “On the Other Side of the Table

  1. The farmer I work for taught us a trick, which I’m not sure is farmer’s market common knowledge, but who knows? He said that people always buy more when there’s a picture of abundance. So, let’s say you have a bushel basket full of tomatoes. When that bushel basket is halfway emptied, it’s better to transfer the tomatoes (carefully) to two small peck baskets, rather than leave it in the big basket. Apparently, people will actually buy more tomatoes that way, because they like buying from a full basket than from a meager one! Call it farmers market psychology, but the farmer I work for says that his sales went up when he realized this.

  2. Amanda: That’s cool. A fine start down the small farming trail. I mind with every passing market day and season that following what you grow right through to the people who eat it is an integral part of tiny farming satisfaction. I couldn’t imagine growing stuff, harvesting, sorting, packing…and then loading it into a truck in the farm yard, or dropping it off at some warehouse. Seeds+people=satisfaction! 🙂

    Krystle: Yeah, I heard that first year. Until this year’s markets, I could never really test it, because I was usually at least half empty by 9:30 or so, and sold out by 11 or 12. This year, with some regular help, more planting, bigger harvest, the stand is stocked to the end, I’m bringing home some stuff. When the crowds get bigger in July (where I am is cottage country as well as farm country), I should be able to tell if sales are well ahead for the 10-11am part. Science!

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