It's Saturday morning. If you're an early bird, you get to the Farmers' Market when the bell rings and sales begin. If you're a late riser, you'll arrive in the second, third, or fourth, wave of customers. Either way, you're delighted to shop in the open air. In a place that couldn't be anywhere else but the Comox Valley.
First you peruse the stalls. Noting the abundance of greens, the ever-bearing strawberry plants, tables stacked with jars of amber honey, samplers of cheese. You discover foods you've never tasted before—duck eggs, water buffalo yogurt. Venison pepperoni. Then, depending on the season, you anticipate asparagus and strawberries, new potatoes and garlic scapes, freshly butchered chicken.
No matter what you find, there's something deeply satisfying about purchasing meats and produce directly from the farmers. In knowing your support helps them farm in ways they want to farm, not in ways large grocery chains demand. And what a relief to buy meat that's been raised sustainably—without hormones!—and vegetables that haven't spent days, even weeks, on a transport truck. Food that, when you take it home, tastes incomparably delicious.
Speaking of delicious, this shopping has you peckish. Perhaps you'd like a tamale or taco. A tantalizing sweet from one of several bakers. Maybe a thick-foamed latte and a truffle is more your speed. Whatever it is, there's time to linger and enjoy. Chat with other market-goers—old friends you haven't seen all winter. Hang out by the stage to listen to local musicians perform, and watch giddy children weave and dance around the straw bale seats.
You're smiling. You can't really stop. Because whether this is your first time to the Farmer's Market or your five hundredth, you feel a part of this expanding community. Integral. Which, of course, you are.
By Traci Skuce