Finding Community At The Farmers Market
If you ask most people what their favorite day of the week is, they’ll almost always respond with Friday or Saturday. Not me. From the start of June through the end of October, my favorite day is Thursday. Hands down, without a doubt. Thursdays are Farmers Market days.
Each Thursday morning, during the months mentioned above, more than twenty five vendors set up shop along the walkway that leads from Centerway Square to the walking bridge. From local honey and fresh baked goods, to organic produce and seasonal bouquets, the vendors provide everything anyone wanting to enjoy authentic Finger Lakes flavor and fare could ever hope for. I’m definitely one of those people.
I’m also a creature of habit, as I make almost every Thursday Farmers Market trip the same. They start with a cup of morning coffee from Soul Full, which I sip gingerly as I walk along the brick pathway perusing the long rows of vendors’ tents on either side of me. I walk from start to finish, before doubling back to make the same purchase that I make every single week: a bouquet of fresh cut flowers from everyone’s beloved Flower Lady. The bouquets change as the seasons progress, but they’re always bright, bountiful, and beautiful.
After choosing a bundle of flowers, I make sure to say hello to Eric from Sugar Haven Farms, and every other week or so I pick up a package of his pork chops or a pound of grass fed beef. I leave with coffee, flowers and meat of choice in hand, only to return a few hours later to spend my lunch break at Coco’s Cafe’s – a food truck utilizing local organic ingredients from neighboring farmers and growers. I’m partial to the St. Helen chicken sandwich or grass fed burger, but it makes no difference if you prefer the reuben, grilled cheese or garden salad. All of Coco’s offerings are fresh, made to order, and ridiculously delicious. Once I’ve received my food, I make one last lap through the vendors’ tents, leaving only when I’ve fully convinced myself that I don’t really need a doughnut from Sunnyside Acres or another quart of berries from the Ort Family’s farm. I leave content, ready to repeat my routine in another seven days.
It’s a pretty standard market experience, I know. In many ways, most ways, really, it’s not unlike one that I could have at any other farmers market in any other town.
But, then again, it’s not.
I’ve been to other markets in other towns – some really good ones, too. Whether it’s Ithaca’s Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing or the Rochester Public Market, the experience is much the same. I walk in, walk around, and walk out with a bag full of banana peppers, beets and green beans. Something about Thursday feels different.
This is Corning’s Farmers Market. This is my farmers market. I don’t just grab a bouquet from the Flower Lady and leave. I spend an ample amount of time talking with Christina – her name’s Christina, by the way – about the other markets she’s been to in the week and how Corning’s is always her favorite. Eric and I talk about the maple syrup season, and Coco always asks me how work’s going, thanks me for being patient while I wait for my food, and reminds me to take a few extra napkins before I leave. In many ways, I’ve come to know these people. I would even go as far as to call The Flower Lady a friend.
In fact, most of the vendors really are friends. The same core group has been participating in the Corning Farmers Market for years. They help each other when it’s needed, support their fellow vendors, and acknowledge each other’s accomplishments. Two years ago, they even closed the market early to celebrate Christina’s newfound US citizenship.
Unlike a lot of other markets, the vendors that make up the Corning’s Farmers Market don’t see their neighbors as competition. They see them just as that: as neighbors. They see their customers as friends. They’re very much a community – and I kind of feel as if I’ve slowly been accepted into that community. I’ve had a lot of standard experiences at a lot of good markets, but something about my standard routine at my farmers market feels special, and I’d be willing to bet that a lot of my fellow Corning folks would say the same thing.
You can find me at the Corning Farmers Market each Thursday, June 8 through October 26, from 10am-3pm. You can learn more about each vendor and their offerings, here.