Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed
got the "opportunity of a lifetime"
in It's a Wonderful Life
This Saturday will mark the end of the 2012 Farmers' Market season.

It will also be the end of our FIFTEENTH year as vendors.
That’s a whole lotta Saturdays!  Over 450 to be a little more exact.  I could get really accurate, but I can’t remember when the Market began to run until Thanksgiving.  

During that time, we have missed just one Market day.

I have written a fair amount about the Market. Considering its importance in our lives, this is understandable. I enjoy every aspect of the Market, except perhaps the 4 to 4:30AM wake-up on Saturday mornings. L  I love growing food and talking to folks about it. Our customers are the absolute best!  Read A Special Thank you to Mrs. Squash.

There has been some sort of Market in Staunton for well over 150 years. Back in the day, a centralized Market was the only way farmers had to get their wares to the town folks. At one point, there was an actual Market building.  You can read a little of the history of the Market here. As times and fashions changed, the  downtown market building became a thing of the past.

The Staunton/Augusta Market started its current incarnation in 1993 with six vendors in a parking lot downtown.  The City was visionary enough to grant its blessing to the new undertaking.  Twenty years later, the Market has succeeded far beyond the wildest dreams of those early vendors.

When we arrived on the scene in 1998, Farmers’ Markets nationwide were just beginning their ride to mainstream. Our friends were great proponents of the whole idea and their enthusiasm granted the impetus we needed to jump in headfirst to the great unknown. (we’re really glad we did) Oddly enough, all the friends have gone on to “bigger and better things” while we have persevered with the Market. 

Neither one of us ever aspired to be farmers…or do any type of direct-marketing…so suffice it to say…farming full-time and selling at the Farmers’ Market was never a life-long goal…or a dream…or even consideration.   It just sorta happened. We were hurt and scared and jobless.  An opportunity was presented.  It seemed like a long-shot…but, at that point what did we have to lose?

It turns out we had nothing to lose and absolutely EVERYTHING to gain.  We took that opportunity and ran with it. Here are a couple of bits about the early days. Early Days and Doing the Farmers Market.  While we have had our fair share of hard work, tears and frustration…it’s also granted us a great rural life free of farm loans and debt, amazing life experiences, and some very dear friends. The opportunities and experiences granted our daughters by their tenure at the Market were priceless.

The market, with its eclectic mix of vendors and customers and its welcoming atmosphere, has granted us the chance to experiment with products and marketing while benefiting from the encouragement or challenge of immediate feedback.  It has granted us a network of friends and business contacts, a host of sources for future purchases, information, consultation and camaraderie.  We have been challenged, encouraged and befriended.  We have learned to communicate with finesse, think “outside the box”, and reach out to our fellow human beings.

Take a look at the Market today. Check out Facebook photos of the Market.

Those six vendors in a parking lot downtown back in 1993 had no idea what they were starting.  They probably never gave any thought to the fact that they created such an opportunity for success for others long into the future.  

Thanks, y’all!

some of my favorite customers
finishing up their Market day

We really appreciate your efforts…and we are so thankful for the Opportunity of a Lifetime. 

                    …and it really is a Wonderful Life.

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