With the arrival of spring, the excitement in me builds. I anticipate the show of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, as well as the growth of spring blooming perennials like bleeding heart and lily of the valley. I look for the little tips of hosta, astilbe, daylilies, coneflower and many other plants too numerous to mention. I can’t wait to get out there and clean up the flower beds, uncover the rose bushes and start working in the garden.
Spring is also a time of hope. Hope that I will have time to pot up the stock I’ve ordered and dig up and divide all the other plants that need to be done. Hope that the weather is warm enough that the plants will mature enough for sale at the start of the East Aurora Farmers Market in early May.
I have belonged to the market for more than 25 years. I look forward to its start each spring, because I will again see many of the friends I’ve made over the years and ask them, “how’s your family doing?” or “how are the kids?”
These are friends I’ve made at the market, friends who lived in my neighborhood 50 years ago, friends I worked with at my first job, friends I went to high school with and people I have crossed paths with over the years and thought I wouldn’t see again. Some of these people have become friends my husband and I visit with all through the year.
The East Aurora Farmers Market is an association run by its own members (vendors), which is very unusual for farmers markets. It has an elected president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and three board members. A market manager is in charge on market days. I am the secretary.
The market season starts the first Saturday in May and ends the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It is open every Wednesday and Saturday in between. Some vendors are there the very first day; some, like the tree fruit growers, come later in July. Every week brings something new and I look forward to the first strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, etc. Some items are a constant; the sausage, the baked goods, the canned pickles. I could go on and on.
Vendors at our market have always been required to grow or produce the items they sell. So, you are buying from knowledgeable people. You are buying fresh, local products from the farmer, the baker, the sausage maker and so on. They take pride in the products they sell and, for many, this is their livelihood. Vendors will answer questions like how do I prepare swiss chard? Where should I plant this perennial? What is the difference between the dark and light amber maple syrup?
I have been very fortunate to be part of the East Aurora Farmers Market. It was started in 1978 by a group of people who were ahead of their time. Today so many people are looking to buy local, and farmers markets are the place to do that.
The market requires a lot of hard work in the spring, and at the end of each season I say, “I think I’ll cut back.” But the draw of the warm, friendly atmosphere and the great homegrown and homemade products brings me back every year. Even at the end of my season (July) at the market, I can’t stay away. You might see me buying fresh produce, baked goods or pickles or even helping at one of the fruit stands.
I feel good when I’m there, part of a great community of proud, hardworking people.