Monday, November 21, 2011

The "GIVING" in Thanksgiving

Photo by Montavilla Farmers Market volunteer who then kindly forwarded it to us:

One more cold and wet market before Thanksgiving... Corvallis Wednesday, by the river, 9 - 1.  In other years, the very last market before the holiday has been a very good market, but this year, this economy, is different.  Still, we'll be there because a few of the people who do show up will be there specifically to pick up something from us.  It's so wonderful to hear from customers that we play a part in gatherings, parties, celebrations, picnics and how everyone loved it.  It's one of the best parts of what we do, knowing that the karma of doing it spreads outward like the ripples in a pond.

This year, what we've heard from people at all the markets is:  I wish I could afford this, or Do you have anything smaller, or We'll I'll see if we have money left after buying what we need.... our quality is better than ever.  Our product is as fresh as ever.  Our goats were wonderfully productive this season.  But people are struggling.  I see shoppers balancing limited budgets more than ever at the Farmers Markets.  Sometimes its frustrating to make something of quality and do all the work to go to market and then not make as much money as in other years.  But when we talk with other vendors, everyone is in the same boat.  Some of the farmers may not even be back next season... in fact I know of one experienced and seasoned farmer who has already packed up and moved from his farm... his home for the last 25 years.  It was so sad to say goodbye to him at the last market.  Big hugs.  Best wishes.  Sad looks.

This year, we had several market days where we gave away our cheese but asked people to make donations.  The cash donations went to that Markets Matching Funds program to let people stretch their token purchases a little further... and some of the donations went to the Alsea Valley Food Bank.  We got a letter from the Board that the donation to the market fund was going to help people at the pre-holiday market, the one just this last Sunday.  That was nice to know.

We also had quite a few days where we sold BOGO, Buy One Get One free.... other days where we sold the second container for 1/2 price, or just sold for last years price.  We've tried to give the best deals we can, discounting liberally, especially to familiar customers.  We've also traded liberally with other vendors, getting to the point where we virtually never shop for food at a traditional grocery store.

There are two bags of holiday meal ingredients sitting by the door.  If I actually make it off the farm tomorrow, they will go into the Food Bank drop box  at the Alsea Mercantile.  This year I'm buying very little for Thanksgiving, pretty much finding most of the ingredients in the cupboard or the freezer.  Simplifying what we are fixing somewhat.  I need to get some chanterelles from my neighbor who picks and sells them and that's a splurge but we had a nice turkey in the freezer from an earlier trade so that's about all we have to buy.  I've been stashing extra eggs and butter for a few weeks so the pies will be covered.  I even traded for some organic cranberries at a Farmers Market.  

Well, I'm rambling.... it's just that I feel the responsibility of "giving" this year more than ever.  Also of being thankful that we are able to be giving..... Happy Thanksgiving.

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