Tuesday, March 13, 2012

To Everything There is a Season

Asparagus is popping up everywhere…magazines, the supermarket, conversations… While it will be some time before OUR crop gets rolling, it reminded me of something I noted last summer (and never posted).

People constantly amaze me.

You just never know what you might get asked at the Market. There are funny questions, weird questions, ignorant questions, and so on. Although, there are NO stupid questions! Volumes could be written on Market conversations alone. (now, that's an idea!)

One Saturday, I noticed a young family walking through the Market. They seemed like they were on a “mission” as they scanned the produce in our stand, looked over our neighbor’s goods and then walked on.

As they made their second, or possibly third, trip past our vegetables, I began to wonder what was going on. While I was re-stocking the lettuce, the dad came up and said, “I gotta ask…is asparagus really hard to grow?” Before I could answer, he went on... “I have been around the Market three times and no one has any…I guess it’s just too much of a hassle or too hard to grow…huh?”

I almost answered “HUH?” in return. Asparagus….in JULY? Seriously? A glance at his face indicated that he was indeed bewildered at the lack of asparagus at the Market on a HOT mid-JULY day. I’m pretty sure he could have found some at Kroger, Martins, or even Wal-Mart. Of course, that asparagus would have been a LONG way from its original home.

When I told him that asparagus will only grow in our area from early April to the end of June (there is some variation, depending on weather), I saw a little light go on in his brain. (I swear I did!) He exclaimed “Oh, wow! You mean, like strawberries? Asparagus has a season? Hey, wow…that is SO cool!”

I think it may have changed his thinking forever when I told him that ALL produce has some type of a season. He walked away saying “that is so cool! A season….all this stuff has a season!”

Everything does indeed have a season. We, as farmers, can advance the season, extend the season, and sometimes even “trick” the season….but, so far, we cannot CHANGE the season. There are just certain limitations in the natural world. Farmers understand this; unfortunately the average shopper does not.

The complete disconnect that many Americans have with their food is baffling to me. Having grown up in the boondocks, and almost always eating homegrown, home-cooked food, I find this nearly unbelievable. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know that cows meant beef and milk, that chickens meant eggs and meat, and that tomatoes, potatoes, beans, corn and the like grew in the back garden. It seems that I have always known that rhythm, that cycle, that seasonality of food and living.

I don’t really know what to do about this present disconnect. Guess we’ll just keep trying to educate the public…

one customer at a time.

I love watching that lightbulb go on!

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