Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Special THANK-YOU to "Mrs. Squash"

MUSIC! (photo- TLeighton Womack)

There are many things to like about the Farmers’ Market.

The products, the atmosphere, the eclectic vendors, music and food are all wonderful parts that make up the whole.  But, I must say…the CUSTOMERS are the VERY best part!

We have known some of our customers from our very earliest Market days.  We've seen young people mature and start families, we have watched babies grow into interesting young folks, we have noted with great sadness the passing of older patrons.  These folks are special to us, not because they are keeping the farm in “the black”, but because we genuinely like them. They entertain us, challenge us, and make us think. We enjoy witty repartee, good-natured teasing, recipe tips and feedback. It’s fun to talk to the preschoolers as they learn about food.  I like to make the babies smile and wave. The good feelings seem to be mutual.  Many of these folks reached out to us in our own dark hour of need and continue to encourage us in all of our endeavors.

As I am always harping on about “know your farmer, know your food”, we make every effort to be friendly and approachable, in hopes of making the Market experience pleasant, as well as educational.  I attempt to remember customers’ names…and sometimes even something about them.  It makes the Market far more personal for them, and it makes the morning a whole lot more fun for me! Unfortunately, with the amount of foot traffic at the Market, we can’t possibly learn everyone’s name. (although I am working on it)  A lot of times we give regulars little nicknames…like “earphones dude”, “Mrs. Red-glasses”, “trucker-chef”, “okra man”, and so forth. Eventually, we learn their REAL names.

A couple of years ago, we noticed a customer who particularly liked yellow crookneck squash. As this is one of my personal favorites and few people appreciate this vegetable, this sweet, elderly lady and her husband were fairly easy to remember.  They didn’t come often, but when they did, she was looking for squash.  For some reason, she couldn’t find any to her liking elsewhere, so she took her chances with us on a regular basis.  When she would arrive too late for her squash, we always felt some sense of disappointment for her.

She began looking for her squash early this season and would come back occasionally for an update on the harvest.  She was SO happy when the first little squashes appeared in our Market baskets.  For the first time ever, other customers, as in LOTS of other customers, discovered the buttery deliciousness of crookneck squash.  More than once she arrived to find the basket empty; despite the fact we had more than we had ever produced in the past.

It bothers me (really bothers me) to disappoint customers…I gave her our card. “Call me before you come next time.  I can hold some for you if you like.”

She started calling. I have been reserving.  Everyone is happy!

Since I hadn’t learned her name, she became “Mrs. Squash”.  I know, how incredibly original!

Last week, I told her my dilemma.  Since I didn’t know her name I was calling her Mrs. Squash and I apologized for the nickname.  She and her husband chuckled.  They shared their real name.  We discussed gardens and vegetables. Then, she asked if I’d ever had squash pie.  Hmmm, no…but, it sounds good.

This morning, my phone rang.  “Hello!  This is Mrs. Squash! (yep, that’s what she said)  If you have my squash, I’ll see you in a bit.”

When she arrived, she presented me with a pie.  A whole squash pie!  It is beautiful! She had made it just for the Boss and me since she had told us about it last week.


Over the years, our customers have touched us deeply with their genuine caring gestures.  We have been given all sorts of gifts and had opportunities granted us that we would have missed otherwise. Many reached out to us in countless ways after “the wreck” and even ask after the kids’ wellbeing today.(someone even asked today--more than 2 years after the fact)  Most of these folks will never know how this fills a void in my own heart in a very special way.  With the exception of the Boss, our daughters (and their husbands), I have no close kinfolks with whom to share life’s journey.  To have folks understand, appreciate and care about me means a great deal. Far more than anyone will ever know.

So, THANK YOU, “Mrs. Squash”! 

                          …and thanks to the rest of you…

                                                       Y’ALL make this job great! J

         (oh...and the was delicious!)

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