Editorial: Celebrate from farm to market

The Recorder. July 4, 2014. By The Recorder Editorial Board.

Fresh produce comes in many forms, from sweet fruits to delicious vegetables to those herbs that add a proper accent to a particular dish. It’s all to be appreciated and celebrated, especially given all of the behind-the-scenes hard work that takes place on our area’s farms.

And we do mean hard work. From the preparations for the planting season to the cultivating that take place in the fields to the day-to-day physical management of rows of peas or cucumbers. It takes long hours under whatever conditions the weather may have to offer that day. That same weather, be it too much rain, too much sun, a freeze or a scorcher, can play havoc with a growing season or what’s been planted.

These aren’t the only issues that farmers face. There’s getting their products to the market. Some of the farms have their own stands. Some have deals with distributors or deal directly with their local supermarkets. Yet there’s another way, too — one that can often present a chance for face-to-face encounters between the farmer and those wanting their fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables: the farmers market.

Greenfield has had such a market since 1974 and while there have been changes in vendors and at times the definition of what makes a farmers market, the fundamental purpose has remained the same for those 40 years: Providing a convenient and centralized location for farms and customers to come together.

As Jay Lord of Fiddlehead Farm and one of the original market members put it this week in The Recorder, “It was a very small market. I used to come home with $100 and I’d feel like a king. That’s totally different money now. And it was a totally different time, and we attracted small, alternative farms. It was a nice, community thing, yet the scale was so different. The consciousness of the county was so different. I think interest in local food has grown substantially.”

That’s true. Part of the credit, however, should go to the farmers here, who through their labor, produce the kind of food that people savor. They also deserve credit for expanding their offerings to include items like grass-fed beef, pork, honey, bread, cheese and non-edibles like crafts.

Indeed, 40 years of a farmers market in Greenfield is something to celebrate. Perhaps the best way is to head down to the Town Common on a Saturday morning and see for yourself what our farms have to offer. You won’t be disappointed.