Ode to the neighborhood farmers market

The thing about farmers markets is that the best one is the one closest to your house.

farmers market
Photo courtesy of Greatbass.com/Adobe Stock

The thing about farmers markets, like coffee shops and playgrounds, is that the best one is the one closest to your house. Before kids, when Sundays were about sleeping in and greasy breakfast sandwiches, I used to market-hop. My friend Justin and I would pick a new one every couple of weeks. Each farmers market has its own vibe. I thought myself an expert back then, working as an assistant manager at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market in D.C. The owner, a hippie-punk, California-bred mom of two young kids, told me to think of a market as a party and of us as the hosts. We needed to create the mix of vendors, the 20-something with baby bangs singing and strumming on a ukulele and the girl with tats running the free bike clinic. We needed a Spanish-speaker and someone to run the credit card machine, mostly to encourage those with SNAP cards to shop there.

Some markets, like the one at Mosaic, offer more ready-made foods, and then some, like The Old Town Alexandria market, are actually qualified destinations with sprawling lines of stalls. The Del Ray market, my market, is compact, with fruit and vegetable stands, an adorably gruff old man selling cave-aged cheese, plus switchel, hummus and a lot of desserts. Do I think it’s weird there’s Alaskan salmon sold there? Yes. Is there too much banana bread and not enough interesting sprouted grain loaves? Yes. Is it four blocks from my house? Yes. And so I go.