Today (Tuesday) was spent at The Farmers Market at the X, in Springfield MA.
I like many, am a sucker for a Farmers Market, wandering through tented aisles, tasting artisanal cheeses, breads, sauces and baked goods. Perhaps even more enjoyable is talking to Vendors about their products and developing relationships through a shared love of food. Like friends I look forward to seeing each week for fun and to, these vendors are equally excited to see me, and share their enthusiasm about their products, hoping to make new fans of their goods.
Having transformed from Shopper to Vendor, my outlook on Farmers Markets has drastically changed. I have been let in on the other side of an invisible curtain and have been transformed into someone I never knew I was. Though having always a strong suit for marketing and sales, being on the other side of the table has placed me in an active gaming role by talking to the masses about what they are tasting, how to taste it and how it can be used in their everyday household. Accompanying this new hat of “Market Vendor” Is an imtimacy I have developed with my clientele. I get to interact with them differently than most do with their customer base in a retail environment. We talk about the cooking They do in their homes, who’s allergic to what, and even the dog they brought with them to the market.
Simply stated, this experience is wonderful. As a Chef you always hope you will get to share your food with others. Though I am not a traditional Chef cooking in a restaurant, Tortured Orchard has allowed me to excercize much more than culinary skills. I have been able to express the passion I have for my craft. I also get to be part of the special close knit group of people composed of Vendors. These individuals have become like A part time family, by spending 6-9 hour days together through rainstorms and heat waves. Like any family, there is a dynamic. The Market manager is like a parents, the Vendors the growing children, with some staying and others moving on.
This family is part of a greater community, composed of the clients. It’s wonderful to be able to see the same faces come to your table and shared how they have enjoyed and devoured your products, or excitedly share their recipes. They then expand the community by sharing their good experiences and bringing their friends to the market.
With technology this community is growing. Farmers can be found on Facebook telling people what they will be bringing to Market, making games for computer.Bloggers taste and share with their followers and root for their local favorites, and Vendors in turn recommend other stalls their customers should look into that pair well with their products. Prime example, Berkshire Mountain Bakery comes to the market as well, and cuts up countless bread samples for their customers to try. Knowing how well Our Sauces pair with their bread, We often tell people to pick up some bread that pairs with their Sauce selection, and then head next door to try other Vendors’ products like goat cheese from Sweet Pea Cheese, or Red Fire Farm has beautiful asparagus that roasts quite nicely with our Garlic Balsamic Drizzle.
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I hope you all will try and support your local farmers market, or those in other towns. Now that I have been on both sides of the curtain I can honestly say it will always be an interesting and rewarding experience.