Monday, 24 November 2014

Winter Market

Sunday morning, a barn at the fairgrounds.  we have set up and it is cold, especially with the concrete floors and walls.  The lights along the ceiling are functional but somehow give a barn-Christmas ambience.  An accordion player with sheet music begins around the time that the first customers start strolling through the barn door.  The coordinator of the market is busy going around and putting things together, like the tables in the food court.   Volunteers work on decorations, including the string of lights we have donated.  People gather inside of the oval of vendors and converse.  They bring their kids and they run around.  They bring their dogs too.  Eventually there is a sustained din of chatter, and a constant movement of people in the corner of our eyes as we change money and juggle dim sum and chop sticks and the glass takeout boxes customer have brought.

Mid morning, vendors from a produce farm that is set up at the other end stop by and bring our order of Chinese cabbage, which we use to supplement our own supply of cabbage.  They have given us a good price for the bulk order and we offer a couple of buns as a gesture of appreciation, and because they are friends.  On my way back, I ask another produce vendor next to them if they have cilantro, and I am told that it is currently frozen in the field but might bounce back for next week.  It is a cilantro that is sold freshly picked and stays fresh and fragrant for the whole week, something that I have never found in a grocery store.

Our apiarist friend halfway up our side of the oval comes by for our 5 for $10 deal.  We tell him we will take a kilo of honey for payment and he brings one back to us and picks up the buns that are now fried.  He doesn't accept the $2 we offer to make up the difference on the $12 jar, but we insist and it ends up in his pocket.  He is listening to a podcast and we chat a bit about CBC programming.  We have a couple of jars stocked now through our bartering arrangement. We have also bartered for cumin cheese, Thai curry, and spelt and beet bread, among other things.  It is easier to look forward to market when you like your fellow vendors and you like what they sell.  

In the stall to our immediate left is a farmer from North east of Kingston and a longer drive away than we are, who is busy making cedar wreaths.  I get some potatoes from her.  I have not eaten a normal white potato in a while since we did not grow them this year and these potatoes of all things offer a bit of excitement to the coming week's menu for their current novelty.

We are coming into December and the market still feels like a summer market.  Vendors bring storage vegetables and greens, and cheese makers, meat producers, and prepared food vendors like us have a place to carry on our business that has no reason to slow down just because the weather has gotten colder.  And people are still coming like it's summer.

The day winds down as open skate in the arena next to us is ending and a few people stop in for snacks or novelties.  We start wrapping up and drop a few bags of the unsold chard and Chinese greens to the Lovin' Spoonful, which distributes produce to people in need.  At 2:00 we unplug the burner and dump the water in the wok we use to steam the buns.  The parking lot is slushy and I have to be careful as I haul coolers and foldout tables back to the car and load up quickly so we can get home, do the dishes and feed the chickens and pigs before it gets dark.

Photo Credit:  Memorial Centre Farmers' Market

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