This Saturday I was fortunate enough to go to the Farmers Market in Kerrytown with a group of West Quaders (I definitely would have gotten lost trying to get there by myself!). Armored with a small Nikon, a green pen, and a community center brochure whose back I could take notes on, I went around all the stalls observing the fresh, vibrant produce, the unique, wholesome wares of the locals, and just generally breathing in the bounty of nature. It’s an amazing place to experience – anyone living in or visiting Ann Arbor absolutely must make an excursion to the Farmers Market.
[Welcome to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market!]
My assignment required me to talk to at least two stand owners, but everybody there was so pleasant and amicable that I couldn’t help but talk to more. I spent the most time talking to a man named Rich Carpenter, one of the stand owners at Carpenter’s Organic Produce, located in Allen, Michigan
[As you can see, there is a variety of produce available at Carpenter’s]
For Rich, farming had been a favorite hobby of his family for about 55 years. His grandfather started a small family farm which soon expanded to 30 acres of over 30 kinds of certified organic produce. Rich had been taking care of the farm with his dad and father since he was young, but as much as he enjoys farming he wants to pursue a career in graphic design (which led to more varied conversation as I also am interested in computer science/graphic design). As a result, the Carpenters have made plans to significantly reduce the variety of crops raised since both senior Carpenters are nearing old age – Rich’s grandfather is already 87 and still running a farm! When I asked Rich what he thought would happen to the farm when he gets a job doing design, he smiled sheepishly and gave a slight shrug, saying, “I don’t really know.”
[I was seriously considering buying these raspberries, but I’m a poor college student with no money. 😦 ]
[Homely Tomatoes – because tomatoes are ugly and Ugly Tomatoes has already been taken]
[Rich, his father (in the cowboy hat), and a 14-year old from their church who helps out with the farm]
Another farmer I talked to had a similar story (unfortunately, I forgot to ask for his name) – his family farm started out growing their own vegetables when his son became conscious of and opposed to certain commercial farming practices, like the application of pesticides/herbicides. One greenhouse in the backyard grew to three; when three filled up the property, they bought land elsewhere to continue the farming. They have been coming to the farmers market since ’05, two years after their initial transition into growing their own produce.
[The lighting was pretty bad for taking pictures in the Farmers Market since most of the stands had shades to block out the sun]
So I know this post is getting really long, but I had so much fun taking a lot of pictures and talking to the stand owners I thought it’d be nice to share them with you guys! Bear with me, but the place was just absolutely beautiful.
[A picture of a brilliantly color-coded arrangement of produce looking gorgeous as can be]
[Not just for produce, the Farmers Market boasts carved beeswax candles and pocket jars of honey]
[An assortment of homemade fruit preserves. The temptation…]
[Rustic wares of all kinds available! The lady who owned this ceramics stand was so nice, and when I told her I loved taking Ceramics 1 in high school, offered the name of her local ceramics club. She has been making and selling her own plates, magnets, earrings, and etc. for 37 years at the farmers market! I ended up buying one of her hand-crafted, unique magnets that hold enough water for a small wildflower to be placed in]
[And here it is, stuck on my microwave next to my Michigan sticker and cuddling pandas. It displays a Gandhi quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world”]
[A rather artful display of vegetables]
[There were many flower vendors as well. A lovely sight, and fresh smell]
[The hands-down, absolute best olive oil I have ever tasted. I really wanted to buy a bottle, but once again, poor college student has no money. The guy leaning over in the picture was actually convinced by his friend, who couldn’t make it that day, to start making olive oil together. They import some of the best Kalamata olives and create their personal mixture from that. It’s been almost 10 years since they started coming to the farmers market]
[Homemade hickory syrup – I have never heard of it before but when I tasted it I liked it better than maple syrup. It’s got a distinct (hard to describe) taste and seems less sweet that maple syrup. What amazes me though is that this lady’s husband just randomly decided to try making hickory syrup one day, and that they have built a successful side business off of that notion since then]
[Finally, my last picture. Dogs aren’t allowed in the farmers market, but the poor puppy very clearly wanted to get in. There were quite a few dog owners sitting just outside the farmers market for that reason – but eager puppies are just another attraction of the farmers market. (: Seriously one of the coolest places ever]
In conclusion, visit the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Even if you’re a junk food addict like I am, or shy and introverted, the stand owners are very friendly and often start conversations with you about anything! The sights, sounds, and smells of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market are more than enough to lure me back again.