Where is the farmer?

Many times I’ll be hanging around with Kelso LaBrea. Kelso is many things, but in his heart he is an urban farmer. He believes that most anyone can grow for themselves a good deal of the produce they should be consuming. Doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment or on five acres. Seems to me that many that live on five acres rarely, if ever, grow their own food, the five acres are for “privacy”. Now privacy is a fine thing, but who the hell needs five acres for “privacy”, exactly what are they doing on those five acres?

The conversation will usually end up somewhere around the Farmer’s Market. We both agree that the Olympia Farmer’s Market is perhaps the best farmer’s market in the northwest, no question about it. We also agree that is really isn’t truly a farmer’s market. The sales of produce and products from the farm is very limited. The prices are way high, probably due in part to the high rents charged the sellers. You will see very few low income people there and low income people are the tell tale sign that you are at a real farmer’s market.

Low income people, especially low income people from other countries, know what a farmer’s market is about. A farmer’s market is about dealing directly with the farmer. The person that grows the produce is the one that sells it to you. The farmer makes a good profit, you get to make a friend of the farmer, and you have a very fair price on the produce you need.

So Kelso and I talk about what it would take to have a real farmer’s market in Olympia, not the chamber of commerce affair that poses as a farmer’s market. What you need is a place where a bunch of trucks can park and people can mingle amongst the produce. We need farmers that have produce they want to sell. We need farmers to be in direct contact with the consumers and without the oppressive rents charged by the Olympia Farmer’s Market.

Until a critical mass of farmers can be built up, Kelso proposes that we contract with the Coop to have the new farmer’s market buy organic products through the Coop at wholesale and sell the products at near wholesale prices at the new farmer’s market. We also work towards educating the public about growing their own produce, possibly for sale at the market as well. Personally I could kill for some really top quality scallions. There was a time I could buy these off a truck from a Japanese farmer in Puyallup. A person could put in a couple of rows of scallions in their back yard, enjoy working with the earth, make some friends at the farmer’s market, and be part of a process that really builds community. And I could get the beautiful scallions I crave.

The new farmer’s market would in essence be a co-op. I’d imagine we could enlist the parking lot of a local church, close to downtown, to provide the space for the trucks and shoppers. We would like to see the new farmer’s market be mostly about farm products. We have nothing against the other things that end up being sold at a farmer’s market, but a farmer’s market has to be about the produce, and about the people.

Now don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that fact that we have something as wonderful as the Olympia Farmer’s Market. It is always a pleasure to go there, no matter the weather. The music, the people, it is all terrific. I don’t have a lot of money but even on my meager funds I can extend my enjoyment there with a few wise purchases. I remember the original Olympia Farmer’s Market. It was about the produce. A dozen or so stalls under a tent. I would get my wonderful scallions there, and the most amazing yellow Finn potatoes. I still dream about those potatoes. You can find them from time to time, but I assure you that they are not the same as I got at the old Olympia Farmer’s Market. Olympia Farmer’s Market, admit it, you have gotten too big and you have lost your way. You are having fun and you are successful doing what you are doing, but it might be time to take “Farmer’s” out of your name. If Kelso and I have our way, that is exactly what you should do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog looks good to me..

Am I allowed to say (ahem)..

Boycott Alpine Experience here?

(i dont want to get censored..)

1:50 PM  

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