First appearance at the TFM

Last week was our first appearance at the Tillamook Farmers’ Market. We’ve been involved with it since last year, and even sold some vegetables there through the Food Roots FarmTable, but this was our first time there with our own stand. To be honest, we were a little nervous about it. Last year, our experience was that in Tillamook, the produce prices were too low. Part of it was the quantity of produce vendors, but part of it was the demographic of the clients (lower income) and the general level of understanding about the “real” cost of cheap produce. We’d resigned ourselved to getting killed on prices, and just showing up to make a statement.

Turns out, we were pleasantly surprised. One woman looked at our radishes, and when we told her they were $2 a bunch, she said, “Thank goodness. I thought you were going to say 75 cents.” Turns out, she sold lettuce in the market for years, and was constantly fighting the battle of explaining to people that if you don’t pay small farmers a living wage, they will get forced out of the business, leaving the local area without its own food source. Then we all rely on Safeway to decide what’s a fair price for food. Not only are we then at their mercy for price control, but they also get to pick what varieties are available, how they’re grown (organic? what?), and worse yet… what happens the next time there’s a landslide that takes out the road for a week? You’d be surprised how fast the shelves empty when the truck doesn’t show up for a few days.

So, we were pleasantly surprised to see nearly all of our produce go, at prices almost as high as we charge in Manzanita. I’d thought that Tillamook would be a good way to offload produce we couldn’t sell the night before at the Manzanita market, but now I think it might be a good place to be, entirely on its own merits. And it was nice that we had a lot of people coming by commenting on how pretty our produce looks!

This week we also have a lot of visitors. Some have come all the way down to the garden to help with the weeding, which is always appreciated. It’s kindof fun to sit around in the pretty summertime air, feeling the sun and the cool breeze, and chatting with your friends as you perform some light manual task. It helps that it’s been sunny and cool here (70 degrees), nothing like the 100+ temperatures I’ve been hearing about in the midwest. Yuk.

All these things me very happy, despite the hectic nature of the last few days. With work, farming, visitors, and a bunch of other mini-dramas, there hasn’t been much time for reflection. In fact, last friday, I had to leave an urgent message on Emily’s voicemail, saying something like “help, I ran out of time and am late for the market, please swing by the garden and pick some potatoes and wash the radishes and close the shed and lock everything else up!” I can only imagine her running around in her skirt and work clothes doing all that. But as I was taking a 30-second pause the other day, I saw her watering her plants, and thought about how content she looked in that moment, and it made me really happy we are doing this.

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