It’s that time of year again, when the farmer’s market is in full swing. They’re open in May but it’s not until the weather warms up and the produce has begun to flourish that the variety and richness of local growers and artisans become really visible.
There is produce galore – the spinach from the little truck of the East Indian farmers, the little fruit pies to die for from the Spanish lady, the super wide variety of lettuces and little cacti from the truck near the entrance of the market. Then there’s the aromatherapy headache remedy from the yoga lady, the gorgeous hair accessories for little girls from the korean lady (my friend Sharie), kettlecorn, locally roasted coffee and bannock!
Not to mention the school playground where we’ve met at least 4 families who have become more-than-acquaintances, and a half-dozen who have become regular familiar faces.
Yesterday, I had a wonderful encounter that reminded of why the farmer’s market is also a hub for community-building and expansion. I was looking for a plant for my friends who had just opened a new Japanese restaurant, Nishino, up in Westsyde, and considered buying them lavender, which they could grow at home if they wished. I found a bunch of lavender plants at this one truck. I started talking to the lady, and BOY, did she know lavender. She spoke with such assertion and JOY, about the varieties and heartiness of lavender, and the hollows to avoid when planting it, and about which varieties were so hearty they could grow in Edmonton. Then I moved on to ask about chick-and-hen plants. And she knew all about them, too.
Her name is Shirley, and she looks like how I imagine the ideal gardener: weathered hair and skin from the time spent outdoors, strong hands, a kind, wide smile and a down-to-earth aura of common sense and time-earned wisdom. She and Ken, who helped us with the actual purchase of the potted chick-and-hen plants, were so kind, so genuine and obviously so passionate about their greens. She actually said, “Gardening is my passion,” and it was her mother’s and her mother ‘s before that. It runs in the blood and it was obvious she loved it.
Together with Ken, they run Laughing Swan Farm, mostly wholesale plants, grasses and shrubs and trees, but it turns out they are open to the public on Sundays from 11-3. We will have to visit one Sunday afternoon.
I love the market for introducing me to folks like Shirley and Ken, whom I might not ever have met otherwise.