Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Cheerleader

Last Wednesday's Chetco Grange Farmer's Market was great. Not only was the weather perfect but we had a good amount of people showing their support. I worked alongside Rich again from Otter Bee's. He was selling an inexhaustible assortment of wild mushroom along with colorful bags of dried fruits. I'm aching to try his dried peaches. To my immediate right was Julie from Ocean Air Farms, who had the most amazing variety of organic veggies and creamy goat milk soap. Her farm was recently featured in the Curry Coastal Pilot and The Triplicate newspapers. Julie is a young, beautiful, rugged farmer - the real deal. She and her boyfriend along with family, friends and interns work their land all-year-round, bringing the fruits of their labor to farmer's markets all over the area. I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire people like Julie.

Organic farmers have chosen a lifestyle that's not for the weak hearted. They work incredibly hard to make ends meet and gross very little. Not to mention the fact that they give their bodies to the earth and thereby to us, so we can have the very best produce possible without using chemicals - which would make their jobs so much easier for them.

Now, I'm not a farmer, in fact I've only tried my hand at herbs and flowers, but one day I hope to grow my own tomatoes, zucchinis, onions and bell peppers. I guess I've never really "needed" to grow my own so I never did. Coming from the big city, you'd think it would be difficult to find organic produce - but it's not. In fact, organic produce in Alameda is more readily accessible than it is here. Moreover, Berkeley Bowl, Alameda Natural Grocers, Encinal Market and of course Whole Foods carries organic produce all year-round.

Sadly, before I discovered the Chetco Grange Farmer's Market, I was either perusing the "organics" isle at Safeway and Freddy Meyer's or driving like a madwoman two hours to the North-Coast Co-Op, just for an organic tomato and some green beans. Then last Spring I stumble upon the Grange. When I sank my teeth into one of Sylvia's organic Roma tomatoes I almost wept. As the seasons changed I faithfully went to the Grange every Wednesday. The farmers there sell in the great outdoors for as long as they can, because when the rains come and everyone moves inside they don't sell as well. If people don't see you set-up outside they think it's over. Out of sight out mind I guess.

I am so proud to be volunteering my time once a week at the farmer's market this year. I may not be a farmer, on the contrary I make hand crocheted bags and organic baked goods, but I stand alongside heroes of farming. People who proudly sport dirt under their nails and wild hair. In the morning while we're all setting-up our Quick Shades and tables, I watch the farmers proudly display their finery and sometimes I get a lump in my throat. I want to yell from the top of my lungs, "THANK YOU for planting, cultivating and sharing the fruits and vegetables we need, for being at the Grange rain or shine every Wednesday, and for saving me a trip to Eureka!" I guess you can say I'm their cheerleader.

Ocean Air Farms intern, Sarah stands ready to take your order.
Check them out at:
Sylvia, sprucing up her lovely produce.
One of my favorite farmer's market supporters, Miriam!
Michael's idea...
A fan of Micky's Organic Kale Biscuits.
Virgil sings all day with amazing depth.
I love his rendition of "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" by Johnny Cash.


  1. Bravo! Where would any of us be without farmers? Thanks, Rachel, for joining forces & spreading the word! Your pie looks amazing, by the way! We need to trade goods soon!

  2. What a good post!! What an excellent cheerleader you are :-) as an organic farmer, I am incredibly thankful for people like you. You know that lump-in-the-throat feeling? It goes both ways :-) keep cheering, Girl Friday!
    God bless!

  3. This looks like such a great gathering of some of the most interesting in the community! Especially the happy poodle. My bag is precious to me. Now come off the pie receipe...:)