Summer has arrived in Northeast Ohio. In spite of a mild winter, and a low record of 5-6 snow shoveling gigs, the warmth, green and bursting colors are always wonderful to experience and behold. Shortly, one of my favorite summer activities will be starting: the Farmer’s Market, hosted by my church community, Christ United Methodist Church.
Since moving 10 years ago to Ashland (a town of 25,000) from Philadelphia (a city and its surrounding areas of about 1 and 1/2 million people), I have become more keenly aware of the four seasons because they seem so present and predictable on the farms surrounding Ashland. In the fall, the fields are put to bed for the long winter rest. The dirt clods and barren fields of winter give way to neatly furrowed rows for planting in the spring from which emerge the stalks of corn so noticeable along the highways and byways. Spring morphs into summer, and behold, the abundance of what is produced for us by our neighbors whose livelihoods depend on our purchases.
Yes, we have a super Wal-Mart in town which I enter only under duress and in desperation and, thankfully, on very rare occasions. In the long aisles and amid the gazing stares of shoppers whose noses are buried in reading the latest deals or scanning the overload of products available, there is rarely an acknowledgement of others, let alone greetings of any kind (unless you count being greeted when you walk in the door).
However, not so at the Farmer’s Market which is as much an experience as shopping event. Rows and rows of neighbors we see each year offer the fruits and vegetables of their labors, along with other homemade goods and products. We change our cooking patterns over the summer to take into account what is fresh and available . We want to do this all year around. We willingly pay more because we know the families who count on their land, produce and us for their incomes. We know where the food comes from because we have seen it over the last few months go from seeds to sprouts to stalks to stalls. And now we can partake.
“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifest witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.” (words by Thomas Chisholm, 1923).
Great is God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of our farming friends and neighbors who keep us fed. If you haven’t found a local farmers’ market, find one, and find it soon before this season ends.