Hello Spring Part II

Yesterday I posted about how nice Spring has been and I included some pictures from the bike ride I was on.  I do believe that I mentioned how Mother Nature likes to mess with us up here in the mountains.  Little did I know that she would prove me right the very next day.  Less than 24 hours later, this is what it looks like here in Northern Nevada.  If you’re in a warmer climate, feel free to laugh at us.

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Hello Spring

Spring BlossomsSpring Flowers

Hey there readers.  As you know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  You may be thinking that I’m just a lazy bum who slept through the winter but I can assure you that is not the case.  Well, I didn’t sleep all winter. I may have slept in a bit more than I do in the summer when I have to be at the markets early in the morning though.

As I have mentioned in past posts, the last few seasons have been tough for our farmers due to drought.  This winter has been very good for us with a large snow pack that is going to help with the water issue.  We’re not totally out of the woods yet but, hopefully, this is the start of better times.

Spring Ride

Last week was the beginning of spring and the start of our busy season.  Over the winter I have been in contact with the vendors who have been with us in the past to see if they are going to participate in the markets this year.  Fortunately, it looks like most of them will be coming back but there are a few who are not going to make it this year so it now falls on us to replace them.  Every winter we lose a few vendors due to some of them retiring, or moving, or just closing their businesses.  Unfortunately, sometimes we also lose some because they have passed away.  Those hurt the most.  But, business must continue and so we start to look for new vendors to fill in the holes we now have.

This is always a challenge for us as market organizers.  You want to have a good number of vendors but you also want to make certain that your vendors are bringing quality products.  We strive to find not only new farmers but folks who make amazing crafts and packaged foods that round out a great market.  The last thing we want at our markets are products that were made in some factory in a far off land.  Not that there is anything wrong with those products but we leave those for retail outlets, flea markets, and carnivals.  For us, it is definitely a quality over quantity issue but we also have to fill the market with vendors so that you, the customer, will enjoy the shopping experience.   I could literally fill a market to overflowing with cheap jewelry, sunglasses, foot pads, diet fads, plastic toys, “as seen on TV” products, and light up thingamabobs but that would not create the atmosphere and shopping experience that we strive to provide to you.  And so, the search for those quality vendors begins.

Spring Day

In the meantime, the sun is out, the ground is thawing, the birds are singing, and the earth is letting us know that another planting season is upon us.  Well, it’s almost upon us.  Here in Northern Nevada, those of us who have been here for a while know that Mother Nature isn’t quite done with winter just yet.  She likes to tease us up here in the mountains by giving us some really nice sunny and warm days and then, just when you think it’s safe to start planting, she hits us with another snow storm or two.  So we just have to be patient for a little while longer and enjoy the warm weather while it’s here knowing that the next freeze is just around the corner.  For me, that means I will be able to get in some good bicycle riding for the next few days and then put it away in the garage again until the storms are finally over.

Spring River

And with that, I will say Happy Easter everyone and enjoy the spring weather while it’s here.  I promise that you will be hearing from me more often now that the work on the 2016 market season is ramping up.

TO GMO OR NOT TO GMO

 

Recently, I posted the above video to my Facebook page. I think it’s a great little short that explains the current GMO, or Genetically Modified Organism, situation very well. Someone then posted a comment on that video basically saying that corn used to have small, hard kernels and that through human intervention and breeding, the corn we know today has large, plump kernels and that would also be considered GMO. My response to that is yes and no.

I would say that there is a very large difference between what farmers have done as far as modifying current crops and what a company like Monsanto does. Let’s start with the pluot. As you may or may not know, a pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot and are quite tasty. The pluot was created by a man named Floyd Zaiger and he used cross pollination by hand in order to create this new type of fruit instead of gene splicing or DNA manipulation. Now, by using cross pollination, he technically genetically modified this fruit. However, I would say that nature agreed with this and allowed the pluot to exist which makes it more of a natural modification. If nature decided that this cross pollination wasn’t going to work out then the plant would not have grown anything resembling fruit. For example, if I tried to cross pollinate a banana with a strawberry to create a banana-berry, nature would laugh in my face and nothing would happen. Another “Natural” way to modify plants is through grafting. The best way to explain this is through a stuffy definition but it makes total sense. “Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together.” So in a nutshell, you are taking part of one tree and attaching it to another, similar tree so that they can combine and make a hybrid fruit. Most apples you see are hybrids. Again, I would call this a “natural” modification because if nature didn’t want it to work out, it wouldn’t. Instead, we have a huge variety of apples, tomatoes, and other plants because nature allowed these variations to take place.

Ok, so let’s get into the modern term GMO. When we hear that term, it is generally in a negative context and, in my opinion, there is a good reason for that. What is happening now is that scientists have genetically modified the DNA in plants to be more resilient to poisons that are used to take care of weeds and insects. Now at first, that sounds like it should be a good thing. If the poisons are only killing the weeds and insects that are feeding on the plants we eat, it stands to reason that there will be more of those “good” plants to be harvested which results in a larger yield and more for us to consume and use in other products. Well, here’s the rub. Nature always adapts. So, by making the harvestable plants more tolerant to poisons, they are using stronger poisons on the plants to kill the weeds and bugs. Over time, the weeds and bugs are “naturally” adapting and becoming more immune to those poisons as well, so we make the harvestable plants more resistant to stronger poisons which they then spray to kill the weeds and bugs which then become more resistant, and so on and so on and so on. It is a vicious cycle. Then you add into the equation that by using stronger poisons, those toxins are being absorbed by the plants that you, as the end user, are then consuming. So while that GMO corn or soy bean probably won’t kill you like a cyanide pill, you are consuming small amounts of various poisons that can accumulate and potentially cause long term health issues. And, by the way, this is the same company that told us Agent Orange was safe back in the day.

So one of the things that is causing a big stink here in the U.S. is that there are groups who have been trying to get bills passed that would require food manufacturers to identify on their packaging when they are using what is being called GMO ingredients or plants that have been manipulated scientifically. Places like Canada and most of the European countries have already passed these types of bills and, it sounds to me, that the food eating population has been in favor of it. I would agree with them and I think that it would make sense to include this on packaging so that we, well those who give a shit, know what we are eating. Of course, here in the good ol USA, we have those wonderful things called lobbyists and politicians who only care where their next fund raising dollars are coming from. Not to get into a whole political discussion here but, unfortunately, sometimes the people who are in power don’t really care about the people who they represent but only about the large corporations that line their pockets. I know, I know, you’re shocked. So, as of this writing, there is no legislation or regulations that require the people who make your food to identify whether they use GMOs. Now the companies that are responsible for GMOs have spent over $100 million to ensure that GMO labeling does not happen. I know that they have spent a considerable amount building labs, paying employees, and creating these crops so they have a large investment in their companies but, if they think that their products are the best and that no harm can come to us by consuming their products, why have they spent such a huge sum in making sure we don’t know about it.

There are tons of studies on this issue done by folks much smarter than me but this is the way I understand how this works. I have seen videos and read articles about all of this but I am by no means an expert. I would suggest that if you are really interested in how this affects you and the food you eat that you should do your own research and make up your own mind. As someone who has done a whole lot of bad things to his body and is now trying to make up for it by limiting what he now consumes, I would like to know when I am consuming poison. When I smoked cigarettes, I knew that each one was bad for me but I made a conscious decision to keep smoking. I think that what we eat is much more important and not knowing is just wrong.

I am going to finish up with two quotes from a movie that I think really apply here. In the original Jurassic Park from 1993, Jeff Goldblum plays Dr. Ian Malcolm and after reviewing everything that the scientists have done to bring dinosaurs back into the world he says,

“Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun.”

And later in the same conversation says,

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Thoughts? Comments?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Hello readers. As you know, it’s been a couple of weeks since I have written anything here. I took a much needed vacation and did a little traveling. I am fortunate enough to have family that live on the northern California coastline so I was able to visit them and hang out by the ocean for a little while. After getting back home and fighting off a cold, it was time for Halloween.
Yesterday, some of my friends joined me at the Andelin Family Farms for some Halloween fun. The Andelin family are incredibly nice people and were able to participate in a few of our markets this season. They have a very nice 100 acre farm to the north of Reno where they grow produce crops and also raise animals. During the month of October, they open their farm up to the public. They have a big corn maze which took us quite a while to get through, a smaller one for the kids, pony rides, corn cob guns, a roping area, and more. They also have a huge pumpkin patch with a whole lot of different kinds of pumpkins. I only wish we had gone a couple of weeks ago before the patch got picked over. When we got there, it was Halloween so everyone had picked out their pumpkins. I did manage to get one though that Natalie Andelin said makes great pumpkin soup so I am looking forward to that. I was hoping to get some of their bacon, unfortunately, they were all out. I did manage to get a couple of really nice pork roasts though. I’m planning on making carnitas next weekend.
So, we had a great start to our Halloween fun. If you get a chance next year and you are in the Reno area, I would highly recommend going out to the Andelin Family Farm in Spanish Springs but make sure to get out there at least a week before Halloween so that you can your pick of the pumpkins. I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween full of tricks and treats. Soon it will be Thanksgiving. Are you ready?

Alpaca Cannon Corn Maze Dave Horse Donkeys Emu Goat Goats Pony Roping Tracter

ITALIAN FESTIVAL & END OF SEASON

Hi All,

It’s me again, The Market Guy. Well, it has been one heck of a weekend and a great market season. Now let me start off by being honest and letting you all know that I am typing this after three 12+ hour days, tons of walking (51,500 steps according to my FitBit), some exhaustion, and maybe one or two vodka cocktails, so you will have to forgive me if I ramble at times.

Our Italian Festival, here in Reno, is a big deal and this year it went very well. It takes place over the Columbus Day Weekend and typically brings over 30,000 people to the event. Because it is such a big event, there are many sections of vendors brought in by multiple event organizers. This can cause a little chaos when we are setting up and tearing down because all of these people are trying to get in or out of the same areas with vehicles, equipment, and supplies. Fortunately, we are allowed to set up on Friday. It makes things a whole lot easier and I am pleased to say that well over half of our vendors came out were set up Friday afternoon.

Saturday started bright and early, I was on site at 6:30 AM and my vendors all were set up by 9 which was a full hour before the event started. Exactly what I was hoping would happen. The event was scheduled to start at 10 but, as normally happens, shoppers started arriving well before that. The morning was cool but since it seems that Summer wants to hang around longer than normal, the afternoon got up to almost 90. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know that I love Fall and am really ready for the weather to get cooler so while it was good for the crowds, I was hoping for some cooler temps. Oh well, maybe next year. Anyway, one of the challenges that we as event organizers have is which vendors will do well facing the sun, especially on hot days. For this festival, we had our vendors in two rows, facing each other, lining both sides of a small street. One side of the street would get sun almost all day and the other would get shade. And, as you can imagine, all of them wanted to be in the shade. So, we have to take that into consideration when we plan our layout. Now, this year, when we originally planned our layout design, we made an error when we planned and, after I had sent the map to the vendors, there were quite a few that reminded me that it was crucial that they were in the shade. So, after some re-configuring, we were able to make most of them happy. Some were still upset but, this year because of the heat, we really had to make some tough calls regarding which vendors were in the sun. You just have to love high desert living. I have done this event in the snow, in cool conditions, in warmer weather, and now in the heat. Who knows, next year it could be chilly. And then they will all be begging us to put them in the sun so that they don’t freeze.

So after we got all set up and ready to go, the crowds started arriving. We were next to a huge stage and had live music playing almost the whole weekend. For the most part it was amazing, traditional Italian bands serenading the huge crowds and, between the sets, they had very nice recorded music playing. The only trouble we did have was that there were a couple of groups that played, including a DJ, that were just not, in my opinion, appropriate for the event. To go from a nice six piece band with a real Italian singer to a DJ that blasted contemporary dance music was a real let down. It was so loud that I could feel the bass vibrating the asphalt fifty yards away. Now if I was in a club, that would be great but to try and have vendors talk to customers during that, was a real pain in the ass. To be fair, when they played the next day, they turned it down after we explained the situation.

For two days, our downtown was transformed. The smell of cooking sauce, the sound of Italian being spoken and sung, and the sights of everyone accepting the culture was wonderful. I had to laugh when I saw an older Asian woman walking around in a T-shirt that read, “100% Italian”. There were thousands in attendance and it was amazing to see all of the people enjoying themselves. Our vendors all seemed to do well even if sales were off a little bit from last year. The Italian Festival is generally one of the biggest money making weekends of the year for them.

At 5PM on Sunday, the music stopped, the vendors tore down, and the sauce stopped cooking. Within a couple of hours of the festivals end, the downtown area was converted back into the Reno that we are all used to.

And thus ended our market season for 2015. The Italian Festival is our grand hurrah and the time that we say good bye to our vendors and all of the customers that have come out and supported them and us throughout the Summer. One of the nicest things about running these events are the relationships that we build with our vendors. Most of them become friends and some become even a little closer than that. We spend a lot of time together and during that time, we share fun and laughter and even some pain and tears. This year, we had a couple of vendors that did not make it out because of health reasons, one that couldn’t finish out the season due to a very serious health concern, and one that passed away right before the season started. For my vendors who are dealing with illnesses, I can only wish them and their families well and I hope that they get better soon and that they are back with us next season.

So that’s it. The season is over, it’s time to look forward to our next market in December and to enjoy some much needed relaxation time. I won’t be posting for a couple of weeks because I am going to be traveling a bit but I am hoping to visit a couple of markets in California and I will be reporting on what I see there. I am also really looking forward to meeting and speaking with other market managers to hear what their experiences are and, hopefully, get some great tips from them.
If you came out and saw us this season, thank you. If you weren’t able to, I hope you are able to come see us in December and next season. Be sure to like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ShirleysFarmersMarketsNV and on our website at http://www.shirleysfarmersmarkets.com. I am also going to be redesigning my app where you can find vendors near you so look for updates on that at both https://www.facebook.com/EventVendorMap and on my site at http://www.eventvendormap.com.

Finally, here are the pictures I took at the Italian Festival last weekend. I hope that you were able to come out and enjoy the festival but, if you weren’t able to, I hope that these pictures will make you feel like coming out next year.
So good bye for now and I look forward to posting more soon.

Pre Set UpStage Set UpSet UpHay Bales Gourds Fausta Costumes Costumes 3 Costumes 2 Climber CampiesTreat YourselfStage Tahoe BathSnyder Sign Sierra Italia ShirleyandWilliamSchats Rosaliee PrusaiusPope Pies Nancy My Daddys Mitchell Minton Market Jerky Italian HeartsTear Down

Pink Pumpkin Festival

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Yesterday was our last regular season market. We call it the Pink Pumpkin Fall Festival due to the fact that it started out as a fund raiser for breast cancer awareness. The first year, we thought it would be a great idea to have a bunch of pumpkins that were pink that the customers could purchase and it would go with the theme. So I spent almost a week painting pumpkins pink with house paint and using brushes to do it. And they looked fabulous, for about a minute. Come to find out that pumpkins, with their waxy surface, do not really take well to be painted. As soon as the pumpkins were touched or moved, the paint would just flake off.

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Fortunately, after that debacle, we found out that there is actually a breed of pumpkin called a Porcelain Doll that is actually a light pink so we started the hunt to find a local grower that had them. We were able to luck out and, ever since, we have had real pink pumpkins available at our end of the season festival.

Pink Pumpkin 5
This year was our fourth year putting together this fun, end of season, market. As in previous years, we had some very nice live music, face painting, kids performances, and a great pumpkin patch featuring the Porcelain Dolls. If you’ve read my previous posts, you have figured out that I love this time of year. After a long, hot summer, working six to seven days a week, it’s nice to have the weather start to turn cooler, beverages like hot apple cider start to become fun to drink, seeing the leaves turn orange, gold, and red, watching football, and getting ready for my favorite holiday.

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But back to the festival. This year started out a little rough. Due to a scheduling snafu, there was another event that was setting up in the exact same location as our event and at the same time. This is one of those things that can cause a problem when you are an event planner. Sometimes, especially at a popular location, things can get confused and there can be overlap. Hey, shit happens. Of course, now that it’s a day later and I am at home reflecting, I can be a little more blasé about it but, let me tell you, when I first showed up at the location and there were already tents from the other event set up in my spot, I was maybe a little pissy. Fortunately, the other event manager was easy to work with and we came up with a compromise but it still wasn’t a great situation for either one of us. He was setting up a 5K run and the route happened to be right where my vendors were supposed to be able to park their vehicles so that they could set up for my festival. It made setting up the festival a challenge and I had to deal with vendors that were upset with the whole situation but, this is what we are there to do. Not all events run smoothly and it’s our job to make sure that you, the visitor to the event, don’t know that there was ever a problem.

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Now, if you read my Why No Dogs post, you know that we do not allow animals in the markets due to numerous reasons, specifically because there is a county code that forbids it, but yesterday we had to make an exception. You see, the 5K run that we overlapped with was a K-9 fun run that was sponsored by the local Sheriff’s Dept. and their K-9 unit. Because of this, there were hundreds of folks out for the run with their dogs and since the events were basically right on top of each other, I gave in. I didn’t even put out my “No Animals” signs. It just wasn’t worth the fight. So there were tons of dogs in the market yesterday. Again, shit happens, so we just had to deal with it. Fortunately, the people who came out for the run ended up shopping at the market and, from a money making perspective, it worked out. There were a couple of issues with the animals but, overall, the people who brought their dogs out yesterday, kept them under control. Of course maybe the fact that all of the animals, both two and four legged, had just run a 5K made them more relaxed. I don’t know.

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The weather behaved perfectly being cool in the morning and mid-70’s in the afternoon. All of my vendors made some money and I think that all of the folks that came out were happy with the event. It was also really nice to talk to the customers and hear how much they enjoy the farmers’ markets that we put on in the summer and that while they were bummed the season was coming to an end, they were already looking forward to coming back next year. It’s always great to hear that the people who come to an event are looking forward to returning.

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Next week is our last market of the year. It’s not one of our weekly markets so it doesn’t really count as our regular season but we are part of a huge Italian Festival, which will be the subject of my next post, and it marks the very end of our season. I am looking forward to traveling this fall and visiting other markets in different cities. And, now that I am writing about all of this, I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.

SACRAMENTO FARM TO FORK FESTIVAL

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So in my last post, I mentioned that I was going to attend a Farm To Fork Festival in Sacramento. Well, I went, and I have to say that I was pretty disappointed. I think I was expecting more farms and farmers to be at the festival but it was mostly just big grocery store sponsors. Whole Foods, Raleys/Bel Air, Save-Mart, and more all had huge displays and, to be fair, hosted some lectures on organics and cooking but that wasn’t what I had hoped to see. There were also large stages set up throughout the event that had chef demonstrations, live music, and there were big farming equipment displays which were all very cool. But again, my group and I were all wondering where the farmers were.

Sac TrailerSac Stage
There were government agencies with booths set up discussing farming, water conservation, and other important topics. There was even a “farmers’ market” but I was very disappointed in that as there were only six booths set up. I went with my brother and his family and we all came with appetites. And, of course, since there was a large group of us, we got there a little later than I was hoping for. But even though we were a little late, there was supposed to be two more hours of the event when we got there so we were all more than a little upset when every “food” booth we walked passed was either already torn down or in the process of tearing down. Looking around, there seemed to be multiple Kambucha Tea booths so when we got to the first one and it had a huge line, we decided to try one of the others. Well, we found out why the first booth had such a long line. It’s because it was the only one that was still operating.

Sac Music StageSac Crowd
Now I may not know everything about running a special event but I do know this. When we run a market, the vendors do not tear down and leave two hours early. So, basically, I was not impressed with the big Farm To Fork festival. However, I was able to go to a very nice market in Auburn, CA in the morning with my sister and my dad.

Auburn PeppersAuburn PumpkinsAuburn Gourds
There is a nice little year round market near the old courthouse in Auburn with some really nice farmers and vendors. As you can see from the pictures, there was a really nice selection of produce and we ended up talking to a local honey farmer for quite a while. They gave us samples of their wares and explained what makes each flavor different. My dad ended up buying some honey that was incredibly rich with flavor and he used it in a glaze on some BBQ ribs which turned out amazing.
So even though the HUGE event turned out to be kind of a bust, the small market was great and made the trip worth it. Well that and the time I was able to spend with my family and the great food that I was able to enjoy courtesy of my dad and his BBQ.

Auburn MarketAuburn ApplesAuburn EggplantRibs

Fall Is Here, Well Almost.

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Well, it’s that time of year. It’s actually a little chilly in the morning, some of the leaves have started to turn, my Raiders have lost the first game of the season, and the pumpkin spice latte is back at Starbucks. Fall is almost upon us and, while it is my favorite time of the year, it means that markets are coming to an end here. With only three weeks of markets left, I am both excited, because I am pretty exhausted and looking forward to taking a much needed break, and bummed because I am going to miss seeing all of my vendors, our customers, and the amazing products that I get to enjoy during the summer.

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Fall means apples and pumpkins though. For the next three weeks, I am going to take full advantage of getting the best of those crops from my farmers. Apples mean hot apple cider, Dutch apple pie, apple sauce, and caramel apple muffins. Pumpkins mean pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and Jack-O-Lanterns. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I love seeing all of the carved gourds protecting front porches from ghouls and goblins in the neighborhoods.

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I am also very thankful that next weekend, I am being covered for my Saturday market and I am going to visit what looks to be an amazing event in Sacramento, CA. If you are reading this before September 26 and are able to get there, you should check out the big farm to table festival that is being held downtown. Don’t worry, if you can’t make it, I will be reporting on what I see and am planning on taking lots of pictures.

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So for the next three weeks, take advantage of the remaining markets and come down to get the last of the amazing produce and packaged foods that you can find there. If you’ve never preserved fruits and veggies in cans and jars before, it’s not that hard. I’m planning on getting a bunch of stuff over the next few weeks and doing just that so that I can enjoy them through the winter because, as I’ve explained before, once you have the produce from your local farmers, store bought fruits and vegetables just don’t cut it.

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Enjoy the last of the peaches and melons and rejoice in the appearance of apples and pumpkins. Say good bye to the hot days with shorts and tank tops and start pulling out the long pants and sweaters. Inhale the crispness of the mornings and enjoy the turning of the leaves. Revel in the smells and taste of apple cider and pumpkin pie and think longingly of the farmers’ markets which will be back next Spring.

Why No Dogs

This time I am going to tackle a subject that is going to get me in trouble. No matter which side you’re on, I have found that people are very passionate about their dogs. I will just say this right up front, we do not allow pets in our markets. Now before you call me hateful names, tell me how I hate animals, and tell me how YOUR dog is cleaner than most people, hear me out.

First and foremost, it is against county codes here for animals to be in the market. I know some of you don’t believe me when I say that but it is absolutely true. If you really want to look it up, it is Washoe County Code 55.100, Section 3. And since most people don’t believe me when I tell them that, I have printed it on my No Pets signs that I post in the market. So now that we are past the whole “it’s illegal” thing, let’s get into the subjective parts of the discussion.

Number one: I must hate animals. This is one that gets thrown in my face all the time. The fact is, I love animals. I have had pets almost my whole life and it’s because of this that I am happy to enforce the law at my markets. Oh, did I mention that it is actually a county code? It is because I love animals that I would never take one to a market, festival, concert, grocery store, etc. You know where I do take them? Out for a walk, to a pet friendly park, hunting, etc. Yup, I’m the asshole who hates animals.

Number two: “My dog is cleaner than people.” Another quote that I get a lot. I actually had someone tell me this while his dog was cleaning its hind end, if you get what I’m saying. Another thing about your “clean” dog is that they tend to go to potty whenever they have to or whenever they feel the need to mark some territory. It’s not the animals’ fault. It’s a dog, that’s what they do. However, that is one of the big reasons they are not allowed in the markets. I will never blame an animal for this but I will always fault the owner of that animal when it happens. And I can tell you, that the owner of a dog that does its business where it shouldn’t is ALWAYS the one who complains the most when I try to tell them that animals aren’t allowed in the market.

These next stories have actually happened at my markets so you are getting this first hand and not from something someone’s cousins’ brother told me.

I had a lady who brought a Great Dane into the market and was walking down the middle of a row of vendors. I saw them and was walking toward them to inform them of the rules and point out one of the myriad of No Pets signs that she walked past, when the horse, I mean gigantic dog squated and took a massive steaming dump, of Augean proportions, right in the middle of the market. The owner actually had no intentions of cleaning up after her animal and was starting to walk away when I got to her. I nicely started to tell her that animals are not allowed in the market but before it was out of my mouth, she launched into a tirade about how I was an asshole for telling her that her beloved friend and companion was not welcome in the market. That “Scooby” (Names have been changed to protect the innocent) is family and that I am discriminating against him. It was at this point that I just pointed at the massive pile in the middle of my market and asked her if she was going to clean it up. You would have thought I asked her to pick up nuclear waste with her bare hands. “NO, OF COURSE NOT” she said, then followed up with “There are people for that” and she walked away.

Another thoughtful pet owner brought their tiny dog into the market smuggled in their purse because they had already been asked numerous times over the course of the season not to bring their dog with them to the markets. Now I’m sure that little Snookie just loves being stuffed into a leather purse when it’s over ninety degrees outside just so that its owner can have her dog with her because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be. Anyway, this woman, goes into a booth that is selling baked goods and picks out a few things. I just happened to be walking by and recognized her so I paused to see if the dog was with her. It was then she remembered that her money was in her purse with Snookie, so she pulls this poor animal out of the leather sauna and places him on the table of baked good so that she can get to her cash. Snookie, being a dog, immediately puts his nose into a tray of frosted cinnamon rolls. Now most vendors are polite to the customers, even when the customers are not behaving properly or are rude so it was not out of line for this vendor to ask the offending woman if she was going to pay for the tray of baked goods that her dog just ruined. The woman did apologize for Snookie’s longing for the treats but, instead of paying for them, she packed up the tiny furball and hustled away.

One of my favorites was the time a guy came strolling into the market with his furry buddy, on a leash made of rope by the way, and when I stopped him and explained the rule, he simply said “Well why don’t I just kick your ass?” I had not been rude to him and had actually tried to be overly nice because I was in a good mood that day but that pushed my buttons a little. So I explained to him, in a calm voice, that after I finished beating him senseless that I would have him arrested and his animal taken to the pound. It’s probably a good thing that he decided to leave the area.

Ok, last true story for now. I saw a woman in one of my vendors’ booths and noticed the leashed companion with her so I headed her way to tell her about the rules but before I could get there, Fido really needed to go and, seeing a beautiful display of hand made baskets and gifts, figured that it would be the perfect place. As I got closer, Fido lifted his leg and proceeded to drench the whole display. The vendor, visibly upset, confronted the woman and asked if she was going to pay for the ruined products. Now if my dog had ruined someones property, I would immediately offer compensation. This lady was one of those people who are, for lack of a better word, ”Entitled” and saw no reason that she should have to pay for the damage her pet had done. Fortunately, I arrived before the vendor could tear into her and asked her to leave the market. As we spoke and I explained the rules and the local law and that she had just cost the vendor money because of her actions, she became upset with me that I would treat her this way. I again tried to explain that the vendor had lost money, her income that she feeds her family with, she actually said to me “It was just some stupid baskets”. I gave up trying to explain it to her because I could tell that no matter what I said, she just was not going to get what she had done to a person trying to make a living.

So let’s get to some of the nuts and bolts of what people are doing to their animals when they bring them to events like farmers’ markets especially when it’s hot outside.

IT’S HOT!!! When the temperature creeps over 90, the surface of the asphalt that most of our markets are held on gets to be well over 100 and sometimes upward to 180 degrees. I have seen more dogs dancing on hot asphalt than I care to tell you about. Generally, if a pet owner gives me a hard time on days like that, I tell them that they can keep their dogs with them if they will take their shoes and socks off and walk barefoot with them. I have yet to have someone agree to that. Almost all of them just look at me and say “Are you kidding? It’s freaking hot.”

“But my dog likes to be at the market.” To that I say BULLSHIT! Your dog would be happy in a park, at a lake, in your air conditioned house, camping in a forest, chasing bunnies, playing with your kids, etc., but I am here to tell you that your dog is NOT happy in a farmers’ market. It’s loud and crowded and full of people that can step on them and confuse them. They can get frustrated and upset and all it takes is one dog bite to shut us down and have your family companion euthanized.

Just because you like dogs doesn’t mean everyone does. There are a lot of people who are afraid of dogs, allergic to dogs, or just plain don’t like them. So is it fair to all of them that you can bring your dog and make all of them uncomfortable, afraid, or cause them to be ill just because you think that Fifi is having a great time at an event designed around people?

Now I don’t want you to think I only kick dogs out of the markets. I have had people bring snakes, cats, birds, ferrets, rats, and more. I had one guy actually bring a cat with him in a big cage. I really don’t know what he was thinking when he left the house but that one was interesting. I have seen people put their pets in carriers, backpacks, purses, and strollers. One lady had a big beautiful cockatiel on her head which I thought was interesting until she turned and I saw that she was covered in bird shit from the top of her head all the way down her back. What really baffled me about this, when I thought about it later, is that she thinks it is perfectly acceptable to walk around covered in shit. Nope, no issues there.

So there you have it. Let the abuse begin. Tell me how I’m wrong. I live for that. Soon, I am going to discuss “Service Animals”. Then the hate can really fly my way.

Ask Your Farmer

Minton

One of the best things about going to a farmers’ market is the fact that you can meet and talk to the wonderful people that are growing or preparing the food that is for sale. I have learned more about produce in the last four years than I ever did during my first forty. A few years ago if someone had offered me a pluot, I would have probably just given them a blank stare. For those of you who don’t know, a pluot is the combination of a plumb and an apricot and they are freakin tasty. One of my farmers brings a melon called an ambrosia which is a honeydew/cantaloupe cross and it is now one of my favorite things to eat.

When you go to a market, you should ask questions. Most of the time, you can actually talk to the person that is growing the fruits and vegetables that are on their tables and they want you to ask them questions. They will be more than happy to explain to you how they grow things and what they are selling, if you don’t know. They will also be able to tell you how something is going to taste because the flavor of things can change from the beginning of the season to the end. The conditions of the weather and water can cause changes over the course of the season and your farmer will be able to tell you those things. If you are looking for a particular fruit or vegetable, the farmer can also tell you when those items are going to be in season or if it is even grown in your area. I refer you to my first blog where I discuss how mangoes do not grow in Nevada.

Then you have the folks that make what we call “packaged foods” or “Value Added Items”. These are your pickles, jams, sauces, kettle corn, baked goods, etc. These people are very proud of the products they make and will be happy to discuss them. Now they probably won’t give you their prized recipes but they will be excited to answer questions you have about how they got into making these items or why they do it. I have found that a lot of times, they have an old family recipe that they want to share with the world or they have invented the recipe themselves and are excited to have people like you try them out.

Both farmers and packaged food vendors will sometimes offer samples for you to try at the market. Be brave and try something new. You could just find that new favorite fruit or veggie or the perfect sauce to add to them. I know that I get spoiled during market season with all of the amazingly fresh items that I get to bring home. In the winter time, when I get produce at the grocery store, it’s just not the same. They just seem so bland. Trust me, if you haven’t had a peach, melon, plum, or even milk or meat that came off the farm no more than two days ago, you haven’t lived.