In My Ohio

On the Moment's After the Apex of the Farmer's Market

Darren C. Demaree
I refused to go to a farmer’s market until I was twenty-nine years old.

I always preferred going to Kroger, sleeping in, or at the very least, avoiding having to parallel park. When my wife, Emily, would say she was going to the local Clintonville Farmer’s Market, I would balk at going, yet still try to wrangle some bacon or a fresh lunch from her trip.

This all ended with the birth of my daughter, Belle. It became a family experience after that. To catch the cool morning air, watch the fog lift with the coming heat, and walk the ten minutes to the few blocks on High Street designated to host our little community’s fine meats and veggies.

It really became something pleasant in our lives.

Belle rides in the stroller, chattering constantly, and at this point, stringing together odd truisms and singing snippets of Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Em and I walk around looking at houses in the neighborhood, picking which ones would make a desirable upgrade if we ever decide to have another kid, and laughing hysterically every time we see the lady who speed walks her two dogs in a stroller not much bigger than the one Belle rides in. I’m pretty sure she has a Walkman as well, which puts her one really bad day away from becoming Molly Shannon’s character in Year of the Dog.

The key to this whole process is to leave the house early in the morning.

If you get to a farmer’s market early enough in the morning, everyone is in a good mood. Their booths are full of their best product, the vendors have just started making their coffees and breakfast burritos, and there is always someone setting up to play some guitar to earn money for a mission trip to Bolivia or defray the cost of some youthful adventure outside of the heart of Ohio. It’s lovely. I wish there was a less hokey way to explain it, but this is one of the better things to take in when you’ve got no hangover and some decent company to make jokes with.

The jokes are important because the crowd at the farmer’s market always starts out with the best of intentions. Young and old, vegan and steak-chaser, everyone is sort of chill when a farmer’s market starts. Four hours later is a different story.

Four hours later, your casual, sort of beautiful, farmer’s market becomes an entirely angry, near-violent, mess of broken people, who will cut you with their recently purchased t-bone if you buy the last of anything they had their heart set on getting. Seriously, trying buying the last peach at 12:20pm at the beginning of peach season. That nice, tattooed girl, who sold you your cosmic raspberry smoothie will call you a “pig-fucker” and knock the small pile of books you bought at the used book store out of your hands. She will do this in front of your wife and daughter, and not give a shit. If you’re in the process of putting said peach in the toddler’s hands, then a “She’s going to grow up in the slow reading group” will probably be uttered in your direction.

It’s the heat for sure that plays a role. Especially this summer, where it’s gotten to a hundred degrees a few times on those Saturday afternoons. People start to sweat profusely at that point. Their quaint morning is now sticky, and over-crowded, because all of the people who sleep in and still want to get to the market have shown up in a rush, randomly grabbing everything that will fit in the two recycled grocery bags they brought. That’s the only way anyone ever buys an Ohio grown bottle of wine, because they showed up late to a farmer’s market.

That’s the other thing; everybody has bags full of food after 12pm. So, the space is even smaller, and the weight of the bags has become cumbersome. I even hit a dog in the face by accident once while spinning away from a booth too quickly. No one is innocent after noon in these occasions.

Also, the dogs and babies are done at that point. The dogs are exhausted, parched, and royally pissed that they didn’t get a five-dollar peanut butter cake made specifically for canines. The children are tired, starting to sweat, and demanding to eat everything they see. Their juice is gone as well, and you don’t really feeling like spending another four bucks on anything organic at that point.

Essentially everyone not in the prime age and shape of their lives gets pissy, and the few people that fit into that category get pissy because of the pressure of the situation.

The music changes too. That lovely high-school sophomore has been replaced, hip-bumped really by the hung-over Radiohead fan trying to pick enough acoustic Kid A to get either a six pack or at least the last burrito that finished cooking several hours ago and has been forgotten by everyone but the closely-guarded chef. It’s all gone the way of techni-color by now, and the only choice you have is to flee and hope to hold onto your purchases and/or your family.

So, if you’ve never been to a farmer’s market, you should go to one. They can be 100% nice. Also, you should soak in that niceness before the items become sparse and the heat becomes a likely poker plunged deep into the fatty parts of other patrons.

Go early, leave early, and by all means protect what is yours.