Summer Farmers’ Markets are opening and Marshfield’s starts this Friday 2-6 pm, offering farmers the opportunity to sell the very early crops and the fruits of winter laboring over seedlings and flower starts in the greenhouses. The main purpose of the Farmers’ Market is to promote agriculture, keeping with the town’s history and the Marshfield Agricultural and Horticultural Society’s mission since the mid 1800’s. While the modern day market kicks off its 9th year, the grounds have long been associated with farms and farmers bringing their goods for show or sale.
Preparing for opening day I reflected on shopping methods tackling labels, the super giants of grocery manufacturing, far away mega farms, and monster sized meat packing facilities servicing millions. Frankly I am stunned by all of this because Massachusetts is a leader in direct farm to consumer sales, due in large part to the large number of small farms, but consumers remain amazingly co-dependent on what is known as “Big Ag”. But we don’t have to be.
This is a year in which Big Ag’s drawbacks may become decidedly more visible to the nation as water shortages, fires, and millions of fallow acres reduces supply and will drive prices higher. It will affect the whole nation because of the system’s size and nature. However, local food systems are more flexible, responsive, and safer. Local farmers find other ways to cope with environmental deterrents utilizing diverse and integrated crops they provide every bit of growing he or she is capable. The flavor, nutrition, and freshness is superior too. Direct farm to consumer sales is what keeps the small farms solvent; mono-crops and fallow fields aren’t an option.
Honestly, I won’t even look at Thursday’s flood of food flyers all summer. Instead, as a small farmer, I eat from the garden running to the large grocery store only for milk, butter and the occasional banana. My fish is locally sourced, super fresh, and purchased every Friday at the farmers’ market. The meat is also from the Marshfield Farmers’ Market vendors along with bread, eggs, cheese, sauces, jams, and more. Knowing what goes in, who grew/made it, and who to talk to with a question is reassuring and heartwarming. Big Ag, Smuckers, Coca-Cola, and Pepperidge Farm won’t ever see or talk to you, they don’t hand pick and carefully pack your food (despite the commercial insinuations) and they certainly don’t care if you recognize the ingredients or consider them safe to eat. Your local farmers and chefs do care.
This summer shop the mostly Marshfield based farmers like Road to Responsibility’s Cobblestone Farm, Garretson Cranberry and Market, Meadowmarsh Farm, Summer Dreams Farm, the school gardens, and the Cervelli Farm who started in Marshfield a generation ago. A few are new to the market like Norwell Farm and there’s the market originals Cretinon’s Farmstand and Sunrise Gardens, reliable sources of fresh produce. This year brings a new local blueberry farmer, nursery, flower grower, and a new Marshfield prepared food vendor with Columbian style offerings.
So here’s to a new tradition, drop the Thursday circulars and try “Foodie Fridays” all summer to get your groove on with the local farmers and businesses who want to make you proud to purchase from them.