An Elixir for Life in Vermont's Farmers Market

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The fog lifted by the time the Capital City Farmers Market vendors opened at 9 a.m. The crisp New England air tasted fresh and the foliage was at its near peak season in the surrounding parking lot off of State Street in downtown Montpelier, Vermont. The Capital City Farmers Market is in its 36th year and a staple in my hometown. For many years in my childhood, I helped my parents sell spring rolls at our own stand. Read as: I ate samples that my mother fed me under the table, my preferred hiding spot from the crowd. These days, I can come home for a visit and watch my nieces create their own memories at the Farmers Market. They prefer Gracie's Tamales for breakfast. Though back in the 1990s when my parents sold the first "ethnic" ready-to-eat food at the Farmers Market, it turned heads. At the time, there were a dozen vendors who sold fresh produce, maple syrup, honey, and one very nice older woman who sold baked goods. With about 80 vendors today, there is more variety. In The Boston Herald, Moira McCarthy recently reported the Farmers Market in Montpelier is on the "must-do list" in Vermont. I was surprised to read that it is,

"The largest farmers market in central Vermont, it brings in from 3,000 to 5,000 visitors a day" - The Boston Herald

 

To give weight to that number, the city of Montpelier is just under 8,000 people. It is the smallest capital city in the country. So when I went to meet up with my family at the Farmers Market this weekend, I looked at a cornerstone of my hometown in a new light. The challenge of live-tweeting an event that is integral to your past in a community which continues to be at least some part of your present, is in fact being "live" while also being present. I was able to tweet a few times in the moment and drafted several other tweets which I later published. Being present versus "live" online raised an interesting challenge I face as an aspiring journalist. How do you balance bringing the experience to others through Twitter and actually being present yourself?

In my more present moments at the Farmers Market, I did become drawn toward "Keep it Simple" or KIS, a vendor selling kombucha. This ancient fermented tea drink is something I have recently been drinking a few times a week in Boston. I'm absolutely hooked. I spoke with the young woman selling Jasmint and sour cherry flavors. I bought a good-sized mason jar of the tea for $8. This was a steal for Boston prices. The young woman explained that it was a new business, only a few years old, and was new to the Farmers Market. In fact, every time I visit the weekly event in Montpelier I seem to notice different vendors each time. Perhaps it is part of what makes it prosper with so many fresh businesses joining each summer, with locals and tourists alike interested in trying new things, like sour cherry kombucha. I left the KIS stand refreshed, with notes on how to make my own drink, and a renewed belief that maybe this sweet tea, like the Farmers Market, can be considered an elixir for life. Below are a few more reflections on the event.