Fall is here, harvest is upon us, and my town’s farmers market is closing soon. Even though the market is an easy walk from home, and even closer to where I work, I’ve only gotten there twice this year. In fact, tomorrow (as I am writing this on Tuesday evening) will be the last market day of the season, and I’m probably going to miss it.*
I missed the farmers market in the next town this past Saturday too. My Dear Wife and I passed by as the vendors were packing up, and she and I said almost in unison to each other, “Right. Farmers Market today. Oh, well,” and continued around the corner to The Co-op. How do we manage such feats? It’s really not all that difficult, and I’ll be happy to explain.
The problem is certainly not due to a lack of markets, at least not around here. Besides the aforementioned two, there is a “grower’s market” in The Co-op Parking Lot on Tuesdays, which (you guessed it) we never got to this year. Rather, it is the hours these markets are open–or not–which goes a long way in determining whether we make it there–or not. For instance, the market here in town is open only on Wednesdays, and only from 4 to 6 pm. That’s a pretty narrow window to hit. I’m usually supervising the “After-School Snack Frenzy and Homework-Avoidance Cavalcade, Starring The Brothers Three!” at that time. So sorry, can’t make it. The one in the town next door? Saturday morning, 8 am-1 pm. That being the one day of the week we can stay in bed past 7:30 or so, and there being so much else to be done on any given Saturday, we don’t stand much of a chance there either. And that one on Tuesday? That’s all we know…just Tuesday.
While I’m still looking for the backup data, I suspect that, as they say in the movies, “We’re not alone!” What anecdotal evidence I’ve found so far points to restrictive hours as one of the major barriers to farmers market access, especially for low-income people. Fortunately, we had the option this year of picking up a $5 weekly produce share from Backyard Harvest, which as I’ve reported has been more than sufficient for our needs. We’re blessed as well that The Co-op has convenient hours, until 9 pm, and a raft of fine produce to boot.
If I can’t find a nationwide database of farmers market hours, I’ll have to take some sort of sample. Maybe draw a radius from my front door; or check those in my state; or…how about…what if I…retrace the route of our Big Trip this summer, and superimpose it on the national map of farmers markets, then take the markets in places we visited as a survey sample, and look up their hours of operation? I’ll get right on that tomorrow.
*I just made it to the market on Wednesday, with $3 in my pocket and 15 minutes to spare until closing. I got some potatoes for a dinner side dish of oven-roasted fries. I’ll have to tell you more about that meal sometime; it was an impressive bit of improvisation and time-crunching.