I celebrated my 23rd trip around the sun this month as the market surged ahead into the height of the growing season. Often the busiest time of year for farmers across the country, May deals inconsistent temperatures, patchy rainfall, and scorching sun that can make or break a farmer’s crop.
All the while preparing for the season ahead, winter crops are edged out by fast growing, high yield summer produce. Many of our vendors have had a successful spring despite a smaller harvest than in past years.
Shaking off the cold, vendors will arrive in droves come June. They will then have enough produce to make the trip to the market worthwhile when market attendance spikes.
I’m most excited to shop for fresh tomatoes, summer squash, and bush beans. These were staple foods in meals my mom used to cook growing up, and I am looking forward to trying my own variations of her dishes.
Some of my favorite conversations this month have been with Mr. Jackson concerning the business of farming. By using conventional methods he can maximize his harvests and offer a wide produce selection at the weekly markets.
People who patronize his stand should know that they are supporting a seasoned farmer with a wealth of knowledge, humor, and raw grit that has gotten him through historical struggles. Hang around his booth for a few minutes and he may impart a kernel of wisdom.
Zoning in on my last three months of service I hope to see a field trip program with the Cleveland Academy of Leadership (CAL) come to fruition. Many hours have gone into researching best practices for lesson plans while adhering to state requirements.
It has been a pleasure working with science teacher Mrs. Becky Cornwell and assistant principal Mr. Marquice Clark to develop effective curriculum for Cleveland students. More work is ahead as we prepare to roll out the program during CAL’s extended year in July.
I am proud of all the work that HCFM staff have done on this project so far and I hope I am around when the wheels are set in motion. I think it can inspire elementary school children to take part in wider community efforts aimed at improving the health and economic vitality in the Northside of Spartanburg. We are calling the program “Seed to Table”.
The kids will be growing their own bush bean plants as part of the curriculum, and we will hopefully have Lexie Garrison of Hen House Brunch do a cooking demo in which the kids will make a small salad. This will enable them to be part of every step in the food process, from growing, tending, harvesting, and finally eating.
Anyone who has grown their own food can attest to the sense of reward that comes with making a meal out of what you have produced. We hope to share this experience with the kids!
To close I’d like to ask anyone reading this to please keep the families of Mike McCormick and Aaron Smeltzer in your prayers. While on assignment for WYFF their SUV was tragically struck by a tree and the two men passed away. Mike was a great supporter of the Farmers Market. They will be dearly missed.