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From Farm to Family - Feb. 4th

What do libraries, dog parks, and cozy campfires all have in common?

They’re all places and moments of time—tiny, minuscule fractions of a fleeting and universal concept that living beings, from bees to moths, have come to accept—where everyone and everything can coexist and, most importantly, thrive in peace.

Regardless of whether the exact locations of these places are silent or loud, crowded or vacant, or luminescent or dim—from the muted breaths to the echoing whispers between families and lovers to the warmth of either book spines or fur coats—there’s life to live and life to enjoy in these places.

However, ultimately, I think nothing exemplifies this feeling more perfectly than a farmer’s market.

With the new establishment and merging of Memorial Senior High School’s two biggest environmental clubs come the new spring semester, one of the very first events of this newly-formed club was to visit one of these such places, and there’s no other more enchanting way to kick off the new year than to spend quality time with friends, purchase delicious handmade and hand-grown goods, and to say “hello” and share conversation with lively strangers.

Upon arrival at Memorial Village farmer’s market on early Saturday, February 4, morning at 9 AM, I was instantly captivated. The weather was brisk and chilly, but the air and atmosphere around the area were both clean and crisp; breathing in felt like taking a sip of cool lemonade on a hot Texan summer day—just what one would need after spending five days straight stuck in stuffy classrooms.

Stepping onto the market grounds felt like stepping into a quaint fairytale village, with each booth lined against the brilliant and clear blue sky—like something you would see in the backgrounds of something like Beauty and the Beast, where everyone lived a peaceful and fruitful life, each with their own niches. The market was small, not even spanning one square mile in space, but there was undoubtedly a booth for everything one could ever needy—thus, consequently, it was a productive and efficient use of space that proved the sustainability of land by urban farmer’s markets. From freshly grown tomatoes to homemade and self-brined pickles, to jewelry and baseball mitts, and even to cotton candy, this “village” couldn’t have been complete if just one booth was missing, and each one only added to the wonderfully enchanting experience each shopper was immersed in while browsing there.

(The Memorial Farmer’s Market against a brilliant and clear blue sky.)

Soon enough, Merry Ding, our ECO co-president, and I were joined by several other ECO members, including Chris Salha, our other co-president, and Faye Lee, our ECO co-vice-president. The first thing we did at the farmer’s market was as a collective club, and, approaching a family who had brought their baby goats to the market, we asked if we could pet them and take pictures of their pets.

Subsequently, after we had each gotten our fill of petting adorable, baa-ing cuteness, we split up into various groups and began the adventure.

I, personally, teamed up with Merry and went to check out a booth that specifically sold homemade pasta, where she ended up buying some to take home and cook up later. There were at least six different types of dried, homemade pasta that one could bring home with them and recook in a boiling pot of water and serve fresh in any recipe one could ever think up. From angel hair to fettuccine, the possibilities for authentic, fresh, comforting, and unprocessed dinners and meals—something that our modern world desperately needs these days—were endless.

(Some booths set up in the farmer’s market.)

Behind our backs, while we browsed even more home-cooked goods, at the very center of the market, next to the parking lot, a small clearing had been set up with park benches, park picnic tables, and a miniature wooden stage. A singer and guitarist performed various songs for entertainment and tips while we ECO members spent the morning shopping about.

In the midst of all the bustle, I soon noticed that dogs were allowed at the farmer’s market too, and I quickly called my dad, asking him to bring my dog along with her leash too. I wanted her to not only get some fresh air and exercise and to experience some positive social interaction in a new environment, but I also wanted to buy her and let her try some of the homemade dog treats that a booth near the back of the market was selling.

So off we went—the voices, notes, and chords of the performers softly ringing in the background like the soundtrack of a heartwarming homecoming story as I flitted from purchasing cinnamon buns and Nutella rolls to homegrown tomatoes and pickles.`

(Homegrown Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, zucchini, and more at a booth.)

And, just like that of a real movie, in the blind of an eye, an hour and a half had passed without any of us even realizing it. Our morning had been spent in what seemed like minutes, and, being where we were, we had talked, laughed, conversed, shopped, and thrived through all of it.

After ending our event with a group picture, the ECO club parted ways at the end of the morning, about an hour or two before the farmer’s market officially closed for the day. I climbed into my parents’ car and left for home with a bag of sweet baked goods, freshly homegrown vegetables, and warmth in my heart and spirits. And I’m sure many of my fellow ECO members did the same.

But, warming up souls, hearts, and minds is only one of many extraordinary and beneficial impacts of a farmer’s market.

(ECO Club poses for a group picture. The co-presidents, Chris Salha and Merry Ding, are kneeling.)

Not only do you enter and leave with high spirits, breaths of fresh air in your lungs, and the comfort and contentment of being around friendly, conversable faces, but, you also enter and leave with a new peace of mind after encompassing yourself in a world filled with nothing but peace, the smell of deliciously cooked goods, and warm affability—all elements of a satisfying, content, and abundant life that we, unfortunately, often lack in the rest of the world nowadays; the atmosphere and ambiance are unrivaled in anywhere else on this planet, and sometimes, a little peace of mind surrounded by dogs and vegetables is all one really needs.

Additionally, you also leave farmer’s markets with fresh, nutritious, and often organic goods that one could almost never find for affordable prices at local supermarkets. Even commodities, accessories, and other non-food items can also be sold here; these products are often handcrafted with love, time, and dedication, and, unlike mass productions within factories, don’t cause heavy pollution and often lasts much longer as well.

(A vendor sells his home-baked goods, including pies, cinnamon rolls, and kolaches.)

Furthermore, selling and purchasing these goods at farmer’s markets help stimulate the local economy, supporting and benefitting the growth of local small businesses, families, and individuals. In fact, according to Salud America, growers selling products locally “create 13 million full-time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned,” while “those not selling locally only create three.”

Even more, just simply going to a farmer’s market, benefits the individual shoppers as well, even if you do or don’t buy any goods. The area of a farmer’s market is small and easily accessible and traversable, which encourages shoppers to exercise as they browse and explore the different booths and stands.

Farmer’s markets also promote sustainability amongst local communities. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, three out of every four farmers and vendors selling say they produce their goods consistently with organic standards, which also contribute to the overall dietary health of their customers. Additionally, these local practices of home-growing and home-producing foods keep rural traditions alive throughout the country, especially the livelihoods, customs, and traditions of centuries of agriculture and farming lives.

Ultimately, the importance and impact of local agriculture, production, and, overall, farmer’s markets help to create, not only sustainable and productive lives but also happy ones, too. In one or many exchanges between farmer and consumer, producer and customer, seller and shopper, your local farmer’s market promotes healthy sustainable living and a fruitful, beneficial, and happy lifestyle for you and everyone else within your community.

And, by attending and participating at your local farmer’s market, that one fleeting minute, hour, or day of the universe—where everyone and everything just simply exists, but, also, thrives—can be carried with you for the rest of your life. All you need to do is try it out.

Thoughts from ECO members:

Erin Sugg:

My absolute favorite part about visiting the farmers market with eco was definitely just being able to spend time with everyone and eating a lot of really good food. it was such a great experience being able to talk to people working at the different stands and find out more about their passion for the community and environment as well.

Ella Niemann:

I really enjoyed being able to buy fruit and vegetables that were locally grown, knowing they carry less pesticides than store-bought food. The food was also amazing and the community itself was really nice. There were even a few baby goats that we got to pet and they were adorable!

At this farmer’s market, I liked buying fruits and vegetables because they were super fresh. I also bought some tea, which was super delicious with all the herbs handpicked by the owner of the small businesses. It’s honestly just a great way to support small businesses and buy amazing food.

Farmer's markets are especially important because the items being sold are from small and local businesses with their items usually being extremely fresh. Although these markets tend to be more expensive it overall has a positive environmental impact and economic impact.

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