Every week, we roam the in search of our favorite , , and . For most of us, it’s a chance to stock up on farm fresh fare and enjoy the outdoors. But have you ever wondered how the farmers feel about the markets?
, who’s a generational farmer and the omniscient market manager (IMHO), has plenty of years of market experience. Now that I’ve been writing this column for more than a year, the crops I wrote about last year are beginning to pop again at the market—making it more challenging to find something new to write about. Hillebrecht can sympathize.
“Farming is the same thing everyday,” Hillebrecht said. “And different everyday, all at the same time.”
She’s right. As far as the farmers market goes, you know when squash is going to come in, you know when will make their debut and you know when are almost done for the year (sniff). And the farmers are on the same yearly schedule to make sure all of those things get to us at the same time each year.
But things like weather, both drought and excess rain, soil, pests and more can hinder the farmers and their crops. Lucky for the small group of farmers who show up every Tuesday, the market is worth all the work and setbacks.
“Markets are valuable.” Hillebrecht said. “There’s no feedback otherwise!”
Farmers tend to test out crops or bring just a small handful of a certain food based on the reaction from customers at the market. brings in weeds. brings in excess crops from the family's backyard. Hillebrecht brings special varieties of crops she grows just for Coronado.
“I have good stuff people can count on,” Hillebrecht said. “I love the consumers and feedback.”
But are farmers markets just for marketing?
It’s true. Farmers markets can be a great way to get your farm’s name out there—especially in places like L.A. or Santa Monica where chefs flock to them looking for ingredients to use in their restaurants. But Hillebrecht insists that markets are so much more than just a way to, well, market.
“Markets give you a demand, which means higher prices and more profit for the farmers,” Hillebrecht said. “If we sold to just wholesale, we wouldn’t be farming anymore.”
There you have it—you, the customer (the , the or the ), are what keep farms up and running. Without you, the farmers wouldn’t have a business. They wouldn’t love what they do. They wouldn’t have valuable feedback or a buyer-seller relationship, which is more important than you might think.
“Steady customers that like what we grow keep the markets afloat,” Hillebrecht said.
So sure, it’s hard work. There’s physical labor, out in the fields tending to the crops in every way imaginable, plus trekking all over the region to set up stands at the various market locations. There’s both a time and monetary cost for the farmers, who must pay a percentage of their profit each week to be able to sell at the market.
But most of all, markets are fun. For both the consumers and farmers alike.
“This,” said Hillebrecht pointing to a child who was excitedly picking out , “is what makes it fun.”