All across the country in big cities and small towns, quite often you can run across a Farmer’s Market, Co-ops and other gathering places for people to shop for locally-grown produce, arts and crafts, fresh-cut flowers, and some of the most delicious homemade food that money can buy.
Having grown up in Athens, I had the opportunity to visit our local Farmer’s Market, and take a look at all the fresh produce. With my mouth watering at the sight of the locally-grown watermelons, and almost able to taste the peaches, my dad would allow me to pick out a melon to take home.
As I would look them over, and pat them like I was taught, carefully listening for a thumping sound that was just right, I would wonder, “Could this be the one?”
With my eyes fixed on the one that made just the right sound, I would gather it up in my small arms, and we would continue on our journey for the day.
As we passed each vendor along the way, a greeting would be said, and firm hand-shake given. Years later, I came to realize that the Farmer’s Market was not only a place to purchase something delicious, or something handmade to hang on the wall, it was a place for people to gather and talk about things happening in town – the weather or a local fishing hole, and certainly a place to see old friends, and make some new ones along the way.
As time has passed, I often reflect and have chatted with my mom about how the Farmer’s Market was during her youth. She would explain that it was a wonderful day to go “up town,” and visit the Farmer’s Market.
All the big trucks were in town loading out produce for their journey northward to Dallas, and all parts beyond. She said that people would visit with each other, and explain how it was a family affair. And that’s the same experience I remember to this day.
Please pass along to all those little ones the memories of your local Farmer’s Market, and share in the idea that this was the basic way folks moving across this land met and shared locally grown fruits and vegetables in the building of our country.
I commend all the folks of Athens, and the local area, for your dedication to keeping the Farmer’s Market going, and I hope all those folks that come and visit will be able to share some of these wonderful memories with their kids and grandkids.
Rocky Richardson is a former Athens resident, who now lives in California.