First off, this:
To all the folks who approached us worried that the drone could be used to “carry bombs” or “steal privacy information from teenage girls cell phones” – um, yeah. I guess that’s technically feasible, though sort of a long-way around to achieve those goals. Really what this drone is best at is catching amazing shots like you see above. It’s a drone of love, people. Not one of hate.
Longform Shoutout of Awesome: The Farmers’ Market
The other day we realized we’d been to Farmer’s Markets in over a dozen places. This is weird because we’re not over-fond of vegetables ourselves, but we eat them because Mrs. Clam has strongly inferred that if we die an untimely death she will take the insurance money and use it to woo ponytailed yoga-men who wear bike shorts in public, so pass us some delicious salad thank you very much.
We just seem to wind up at them. In Brooklyn there is one where you can buy all kinds of weird foodie ingredients from a guy no doubt named “Kyle” and the whole thing radiates hipster rays visible to the naked eye. Troy New York has one in an abandoned parking lot next to an abandoned factory across the street from a typewriter and adding machine repair shop. In Eugene Oregon we once tried to buy lunch at a farmer’s market, but the proprietor of the stand was in a meditative trance and unable to serve us. San Francisco has several, both Portlands have them, Ithaca has a permanent setup for theirs, and we’ve been to similar concepts outdoors in the snow in northern Europe where they served hot spiced wine and comically enormous pretzels. In Asia and the Middle East outdoor markets are just called “shopping”.
Here in the States it’s no longer just a hippie thing, either. They are all over the place now, mostly clustered in cities and towns with large numbers of technology, education, science/medical and creative class workers (see The Clam’s previous essay on maintaining an essential hipfrastructure here).
The fact that we have one in Gloucester (June 12-Oct 9, Stage Fort Park) shows what we frequently talk about on No Snark Sundays and many other days, that the incredible quality of life we enjoy in Gloucester rests on the back of the many dedicated people who make cool shit happen. Here’s some fun facts about our Farmer’s Market that show we roll with the heavies when it comes to being a cool place to live:
Over 75 entirely local vendors (full list) Look, we go to the Basket, we like the Basket even. But anytime we can give money to our neighbors over the Demoulases who I’m sure are very nice but whom we have never met personally, we’re going to go ahead and do that.
No condos Local agriculture means open land. What would you rather have on that bit of open land nearby, some locally grown crops and livestock or some swell condos and McMansions? Hey man, up to you, it’s cool. Whatever you want. But just remember that every bushel of local corn equals a square meter of productive farmland somewhere nearby. You would rather that it be in Iowa? Up to you.
A check on the ‘Great Places to Live’ algorithm When people look at where to buy houses and locate business operations they add up things like schools, public transportation, crime rates, numbers of restaurants and other services AND farmers’ markets. Seriously, it’s on the spreadsheet. This affects things like property values and Gloucester’s perception as a dynamic or stagnant city. Having an active farmers market is a positive indicator the same way having healthy buds and leaves on a plant shows it’s thriving.
Healthier people The farmers market takes SNAP, WIC and Senior Market Coupons. The Open Door, Pathways and AGH have partnered with them to get better food into the pantries of the people who need it most (let’s remember that nearly 1/3 of our population here is on some kind of assistance, a fact-checked number that never ceases to make us shudder in disbelief). So now not only does that federal assistance stay in the local economy rather than going to the Shaws corp or 7/11, instead it goes to food that actually nourishes our people rather than crank them full of empty calories. The trickle-down effect reaches to kids in school who know what a vegetable looks like and elderly folks staying healthier. Add to it the partnerships with Backyard Growers and the school garden programs and suddenly you have made a real difference in the overall health of the city.
Chemical free We hate to mention this, but has anyone noticed how some events devolve into drunkfests? We at the Clam are certainly not ones to chide, but it did seem a little over the top at the Horribles parade when the dudes next to us had to drink a couple of 12 paks of Heineken Light and get into slurry arguments with ex-wives, girlfriends and presumably dealers as they passed by. We’re not opposed to people having fun by any stretch, but one of the great things about the market is that it’s blissfully free of the kind of curse-filled drunken shouting that can be something of a downer at other public events. I’m guessing that the number of arrests at the farmers market is low and will likely stay that way until someone passes a law against snazzy, hand-stitched waistcoats.
Hello, I’ll be your farmer today One of the many things to love about Gloucester is knowing everybody. It creates a sense of accountability and “we’re all in this together-itveness” You know your plumber, your mechanic, the folks who own the shops and restaurants (although some of our lady-friends tell us this is exactly why they choose a gynecologist from out of town). The same should be true of the people who grow your food. They are actual people with families and, lets face it, in many cases just simply breathtaking facial hair. Everyone should be able to admire the epic beard on the person who grows their food, that’s like a fundamental right.
As we said, we’ve been to these things all over the country and in different parts of the world. None, not one of them in any place we have traveled is in an off-the-hook freaktabular location as ours. Even when we went to one in Norway it was in a somewhat ratty church parking lot for some reason, not over next to the Fjord. To be fair, though, it was also the only one we’ve been to where there was a booth selling whale sausage.
Ours is so well attended (1,500 people/week) and flat-out gorgeous I hear the Governor and some heavy hitters are coming to our market sometime this summer to talk about how farmers markets are a ven-diagram of pure win that weave small business, local agriculture and healthy eating initiatives into a productive enterprise and largely free-market solution to a ton of difficult problems, all with a minimum of support. For example, if the farmers market prevents just one heart attack by helping a family eat better (remember what your doctor always says: “you gotta eat better and exercise more”), if it helps one kid focus better in school because they ate a salad an not a donut or if it is part of the equation that gets just one business to locate here providing jobs and income for the town, then it’s worth every penny of the bare-bones support it needs to run.
Also there is frequently pie. And local musicians playing free family-friendly stuff. And a different kid’s activity every week. Look, we just can’t list it all, just freaking go, OK? Remember, there is pie. Everything else is just bonus.
In short, farmer’s market = everybody wins. The city, the people, the vendors, everybody. So a bellowing Clam-Goat “Bleat of Victory” to the Gloucester Farmers Market. Huzzah folks, you know who you are but Niki Bogin especially.
Oh, and Correction: Everybody wins but people who sell razors. Epic beards on some of those dudes. Just epic.