By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

Some Things Old are New Again
Carole Townsend

I remember when I was a kid, on any given Saturday morning my parents could say, “Let’s go to the Farmers’ Market,” and off we’d go. I have to be honest; my siblings and I were never as enthusiastic about the market as my parents were, but it was something different.

Besides, saying “no” was never an option anyway. We were too young to be left at home alone.

Now going to the “Farmers’ Market when I was a little girl meant taking a drive down to Forest Park. Remember that? We’d make the trek all the way down to Clayton County, and my parents would begin the selection process. They would walk slowly from space to space, critically eyeing the corn in this bin, or the green beans in that one. They’d thump melons and sniff tomatoes. They’d do this for hours and when they were finished, we’d pack up and head back to Doraville. 

I remember sitting in the back seat of my dad’s Oldsmobile, gazing out the window as the pine trees rushed by and the sun got lower and lower in the sky. The Braves game would crackle comfortingly through the AM radio station, floating into our car from some faraway place. Every now and then, without fail, Dad would mutter a thing or two about the lack of pitching talent on his beloved home team. Before long, my eyes would get heavy as I thought about things like why the moon was following me, or why my sister always had to take “motion sickness” pills before we took long trips. 

Over the next few days, my mom would can green beans and pickles, freeze corn or otherwise “put up” the vegetables they had bought at the market. Even though both of my parents were working professionals, that part of life never left them. The country part, the part about preserving foods that they had bought from farmers (or grown themselves). A Virginia girl and a Tennessee boy, my parents both knew their way around a farm.

I love that farmers’ markets are all the rage again. I love that many of them only allow local growers and vendors to peddle their wares to shoppers. These local markets not only give their economies a much-needed shot in the arm, but they also give patrons healthier choices of foods. I know of one such market whose volunteers actually visit the farms, to be sure that their “organic” vegetables truly are organic. How cool is that? It’s like they’re shopping for us.

Another good thing about these markets is what they do for a community’s social health. Neighbors meet neighbors as they stroll from booth to booth. Church members meet other members, after only having seen them for years in the annual directory. Children run and play with friends, and adults make new friends. In other words, these markets breathe life into the people of the communities they serve, as well as revitalizing the economies and enhancing the health of those who shop there.

Today, most local farmers’ markets also offer hand-crafted wares such as jewelry, clothes and pottery. Area musicians sometimes tune up their guitars and play a few songs while neighbors shop. Local artists, and well as local farmers, benefit from every single purchase. Seems to me that’s a win-win.

Love your community? Throw your support behind it, and shop your nearest farmers’ market this year. Check your city’s website to find out when your market will commence doing business this summer. Some markets are open year-round, and some only seasonally, opening around the beginning of June.

Yes, the old farmers’ market of yesterday is back, and it’s better than ever. Support local farmers and artists, eat a little healthier, and meet some new friends this year at your local market.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.