All the way from Boiling Springs—a fifteen-minute drive from campus—to the corner of High Street and Hanover had the beets traveled into our hands. The fresh dirt clinging onto the lower stems couldn’t hide the vivid blush of the stalks and roots, and after carefully picking out five of them, we took a moment to get to know the farmer smiling behind the basketfuls of fresh farm produce at the “Farmers on the Square” in downtown Carlisle.
The stand sold a hundred-percent certified organic produce only, stated the farmer proudly upon query. Dickinson’s people had been one of the founding members of the farm, and that was why she came to the market to sell her produce—to stay closer to the college that had funded her passion. It was, according to her, also a comfortable market overall. Having experienced the relaxed, pleasant atmosphere created by the small, colorful stands of local farmers, we had little trouble connecting with her on the matter.
After a brief, hurried visit through the crowd to pick the sauce that best resembled Tabasco, and a fruitless search for lettuce heads with thirty minutes to the market’s closing, we settled for a mix of kale and chard upon coming across a table displaying piles and basketfuls of fresh greens.
When, after the purchase, asked the motivation for farming, the farmer looked flustered and thought for a while before stating: “Because I like to!” While it was a rather simple answer, no other reason had stood out to her further or brighter than joy in the activity itself, and having seen her delight in assisting everyone who passed by, we were not surprised. It was a pleasure to hear that she dedicated her time to a profession that had many benefits to the local community.
Squinting at the cluster of jalapenos in the basket to pick out the best, we queried on what type of people typically came to the market—and more specifically, to the booth. The response was just as simple and straightforward as the previous: “Hungry people.” After the short burst of merriment from everyone who was listening, he explained that it was true: people hungry for fresh organic food made up the majority of the customers. It was common for a shopper to want to have a genuine relationship with the farmer, he said, since this ensured that they knew exactly where the produce was being farmed. And that, indeed, was what made the trip to the farmer’s market in downtown Carlisle memorable to the last.