Starting in May and going through October we congregate at our various farmers markets not just to stock up on food, but to connect with our friends, neighbors, and community members. In the Berkshires we are particularly lucky because we have such a strong, vital and connected community. The Farmers’ Market doesn’t just offer us a chance to stock up on fresh, clean food, but an opportunity to connect with our fellow farmers and food producers. It gives us a chance to buy a grilled sausage made from pastured pork, while also learning about what the Selectboard is working on. When friends come to visit us during the summer months, we are always eager to take them to the Farmers’ Market to show them what a truly exceptional rural community we live in. “This is us”, I say, proudly beaming.
Once October comes, I am always a little sad knowing that the weekly markets will be ending, but I also know that with the holidays just around the corner there will be indoor markets at which I will continue to see my friends and neighbors. But as we enter the dark and cold days, after the holidays have ended, and the snow has lost its charm it is easy to become a little depressed. No more weekly markets, no farm baby smiles, no more zoning board updates from your favorite vegetable fermenter.
But then I remember, we have the Berkshire Food Co-op. As someone told me when I first started working at the Co-op, “We are your farmers market 7 days a week, all year round.” It is not just that I can buy locally grown beets, potatoes, winter squash, apples, carrots, greenhouse greens, and more all winter. But when I am shopping at the Co-op I am going to run in to my favorite egg farmers, and the charcutier who makes my favorite salami. And, this is one of the main reasons why I love my co-op. It’s not just because I can buy those eggs, and that salami there, it is because the Co-op is where the farmers and food producers I love, trust, and respect choose to do their shopping as well.
Do not give into the winter doldrums. Do not despair. Let the Berkshire Food Co-op be your vitamin C, your ray of sunshine. Remember that it is not just where you can find the much needed colorful crisp and sharp local organic watermelon radish in the middle of the winter, but where you can also find that much needed check in with your favorite farmers and producers. The Co-op is one of the pillars of our rich and vibrant food community, and during these dreary days is a lifeline for us all.