The morning dawned cloudy with a forecast of thunderstorms, “sometime around noon,â€ in the forecast. I looked at the sky again, and again, and again. I thought to myself of all of the things I did not want to get wet at the market: Bridge Card machine, lawn signs, me. I worried that some of our new vendors would not have proper ballast for their new tents and would be blown away in gusts, product ruined, money lost. Then I shook myself, and remembered I was not in charge of the weather, and tried to change the subject.
Anxiety for naught, the Universe smiled on us, the sun fought through, and there was nary a ripple of wind for the first day of the Westside Farmers Market.
The numbers tell the tale beautifully. Last year the first day of the market welcomed 467 customers; Thursday there were 692 - a 48 percent increase. Last year the Roadhouse hosted 19 vendors; Thursday there were 25. Last year we did not accept Bridge Cards; Thursday (after a small shuffle with the machinery) we did.
There were complimentary lawn signs available for supporters to show their support for the market and help spread the word. We had CSA pickups for Two Creeks Organics, Zilke Vegetable Farm, Pregitzer Farm Market, Down on the Farm (the Amish Community cooperative), and Our Family Farm. There were several options for cookies and baked goods: Stone Hearth Breads and Bakery, My Kitchen Gourmet (South American baked goodies), Bizzy Lizzy Bakery, and Zingerman’s Bakehouse. After filling bags with rhubarb, fresh lettuce, strawberries, onions, scapes, highland beef, fresh eggs, and pork chops - a bit of decorating was in order.
Nancy Melet’s hand-linked silver jewelry sparkled in the fighting sun. Also available to titillate the external senses was Nakee Natural handcrafted soap and skincare; her collection is made from organic, unrefined, all fairly traded ingredients - and her whole tent smelled like a florist shop.
For a full list of the bounty and variety of the first day check out the market report on Real Time Farms. I watched Karl and Cara Rosaen for more than an hour at the market, speaking to every vendor to be able to accurately record what they offered to sell and taking pictures as well. Cara shared with me that the response to their website has been overwhelming, new markets are recorded on the site every week from over the country - from Connecticut to California. I think this is a great comment on the vitality of our farmers’ market community.
This vitality reflected in the comments I heard from customers and vendors about the first day of the Westside Farmers Market: “I love the energy in this market.â€ “We missed you during the wintertime.â€ “I couldn’t make the market on Wednesday and needed something for dinner tomorrow, so glad you are here!â€ “Chalk for the children, we love playing with chalk, thank you!â€
To these sentiments, I add my own - thank you, Universe, for the sun.
Here is the article on annarbor.com.