Finding parking in town was a bit of a problem, but I wasn't surprised. Saratoga Springs is teeming with tourists in August, but I eventually found a spot and strolled to High Rock Street where farmers come each week to sell their products. What surprised me was the crowd—hordes of people:
Trying out products...
Talking to merchants...
Listening to music...
Catching up with friends...
Waiting for breakfast...
And the scents—bouquets of summer flowers, fresh basil, bacon frying and freshly brewed coffee overpowered the fumes from nearby traffic, which somehow seemed faraway. Cells phones weren't glued to people's ears and the folk band didn't have any competition from iPods.
Being part of this energetic scene made me wonder if farmer's markets were becoming more popular. People trying to return to a simpler time when merchants explained the details of their products instead of the side of a box; where cash was traded for fresh food as opposed to plastic for packaged products; where smiles and laughter were as common as ripe tomatoes.
I did a little research when I returned home. The answer is: Yes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on August 3, 2012 that Farmer's Markets across the nation have increased by 9.6 percent over the past year. Organizations such as, Slow Food, started in 1989 to counter fast food/junk food lifestyles first ignited consumer's needs for fresh, local produce. In 1994 there were 1744 farmer's markets registered with the USDA. Today: 7,864.
By the casual walking, easy conversations, and smiles I observed on Saturday, it was evident that slow food wasn't the only thing people were interested in finding at the market. Slow living was also up for grabs and it appeared to be a very popular product.
Do you visit a Farmer's Market near your home? If so, what is your favorite part? For me, so hard to choose, but I'll go with the overall ambiance of friendliness and joy. It really is a happy a place.
KICK BACK SONG OF THE WEEK:
Gypsy Jazz West entertains at the Portland, OR Farmer's Market. This is a 20-minute video, but stop in for a few minutes and enjoy the festivities:
KICK BACK BOOK OF THE WEEK:
A few years back I came across a truly fun and easy read: A Year on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball. It's about three women whose husbands are gone and children are grown. Amazon.com says, "Tired of always dreaming and never doing, Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget make a life-altering decision. Uprooting themselves from their comfortable lives in the suburbs, the three friends buy a run-down mansion, nestled in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley. They christen their new home, "Ladybug Farm," hoping that the name will bring them luck.
A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA:
When Jamie Stolis, the disenchanted heroine in my soon to be released novel, A Stop in the Park, is asked, "What do you feel like when you're in your garden?" She replies:
"Like love is pouring out of me. The earth graciously accepts it and returns my gift with beauty."