Monday, January 29, 2007


I've kept schtum about this until now because I wasn't sure I would be allowed to do it. But I've just returned from a city council meeting (the word "city" being used somewhat loosely, since our town has only 400-some residents) and I have most excellent news:

I have been given permission to operate a Wednesday drive-time farmers' market in our town! It'll be in the town park at the crossroads, along our busy little rural highway. It will operate from approximately mid-March through October every year. And the city councilpeople are so enthusiastic about it that they waived the cost of my business license!

Can I get a collective "woo hoo"?

I decided to try to do this for a variety of reasons. One is obviously self-serving; for us, it will be a supplement to the Saturday morning farmers' market in Oconee County, which we will continue to attend. But the other reasons are more community-minded. I've noticed, more and more, that this area is losing its backyard growing tradition. The people who have big plots of rutabagas and collards, or who grow rows and rows of muscadines, are all 70-plus years old. Meanwhile, the young people eat at McDonald's and can't identify an okra pod when they see one.

As a recent transplant to this area, I'm particularly sensitive to cultural signifiers. So I ask: In the absence of pecans and peaches and collards, what's so special about being a southerner? I want to keep those things alive, and to help make them new again--because they really are special.

I suspect this thing will start out tiny. There may be weeks when it's only us and our friend L2. But I want it to grow large and prosperous. I've already been asked whether the oldest lady in town can bring her crochet work and her cracked pecans (yes), whether the owner of the meat-and-three can sell banana pudding (yes), whether a church can have a booth (yes), and whether a person with an accidental surplus of tomatoes can set up a table (yes, please!). I almost don't care what people sell, as long as they come together in the name of the community.

And maybe along the way, I can get them to try kudzu jelly or purple sprouting broccoli...