Yesterday I was talking with chatting with someone who had worked with farmers’ market vendors in the past, and she leaned in at one point and said, “there are always a couple who stir up trouble, though right?” Most market managers would probably wearily answer, “of course.” And this isn’t a knock on other markets; it’s pretty inevitable that when you bring a whole bunch of people together who are all competing for the same batch of customers dollars in very close proximity of each other, there’s probably going to be a little sniping here and there. We’re all out there in the heat or the rain, in a business that can be very stressful and uncertain–it’s not going to be all smiles and rainbows. But I was struck once again last night by how strongly I was able to answer “No” when talking about vendor squabbles this season.
Throughout an incredibly busy season, with our organization rocked by change, at least one thing was reliably constant: my Champaign Farmers’ Market vendors were an absolute delight to work with. There was such an wonderful sense of camaraderie with this group. Vendors cross-promoted each other, jumped in to action whenever someone needed help, were incredibly helpful in promoting the market in the community. Even when the wind whipped cold rain in our faces for three hours, everybody took it in stride with suprising positivity. On slower days in October, vendors looked on the bright side, pointing out improvements over this time last year. And most of all, vendors were so engaged with our cutomers, giving shoppers ideas of how to use their products and building up a solid base of regulars. (Plus, they donated over $4,500 worth of leftover produce to the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen!). While I am thankful for the downtime in the winter to plan for next season, I do miss this wonderful bunch of people, who truly made this job easier.
So in tribute, I’ve put together a little video to celebrate the vendors, volunteers, sponsors, and others who helped make this our best market season yet. Can’t wait for 2018!