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10 Lessons I've Learned from a Brilliant Farmers Market Manager

Jacquelyn Evers's picture

As we bid farewell to the brain behind the Champaign Farmers Market, I wanted to use this space to showcase Sarah and the many ways she has truly been an asset to The Land Connection’s work with food access, our farmers market, and really a million more things as well. While we are excited for her adventures ahead, we are sad she won’t be here to continue her work with TLC. In honor of all that she’s done, here’s my reflection, in no particular order, on 10 lessons Sarah has taught me since I met her last spring.

  1. A farmers market is more than just a place to stop through and purchase fresh, locally grown/produced foods. It’s a community. And boy has Sarah built the Champaign Farmers Market environment to be an outstanding community where our patrons look forward to coming each week and our vendors enjoying selling at each week. This blog would reach “War and Peace” lengths if I explained the many ways Sarah has built our market community, so I will have to ask that you just trust us on this one!
  2. It is possible to build jokes into almost every situation and conversation. Sarah’s propensity for jokes and puns is astonishing and it certainly makes TLC a happier place to be during the work day.
  3. Local foods purchased through a farmers market may seem to be more expensive at times, but 100% of the price you pay goes directly into the hands of our farmers and producers, so how can we feel bad about that? This one’s huge given the USDA reported in 2016 that only 7.8 cents per dollar made it back to the farmer when a consumer purchased food indirectly (i.e. through a retailer and not directly from the farmer).
  4. Can you possibly eat a generic, store-bought tomato after tasting one purchased from the farmers market? The short answer here is no, you can’t and I did complete the necessary research on this after Sarah once exclaimed to me that grocery store tomatoes are not nearly as flavorful as a farmers market tomato.
  5. Colorful pens make all of the things better/easier/more fun. If you have ever received anything handwritten from Sarah, chances are it has been in a fun and exciting color. This has to be one of her signature traits!
  6. During Farmers Market season, check the weather constantly. Even though Sarah tried to remain optimistic with weather reports, I think she always assumed each market would be plagued by torrential rains or sweltering heats. At least this way you are always prepared, right? AND, if it does rain, make sure you take a stroll around the market to enjoy the rain… unless there’s lightning and then you should follow safety protocols.
  7. Do not turn your back on Traci and Rob during the market. You never know what those two are up to! Need we remind everyone about the megaphone?!
  8. Above all else, providing healthy, nutritious, locally produced foods to our community, is the #1 most important thing that we do. Every person, everywhere deserves access. I know TLC will continue to live by that philosophy as Sarah embarks on her next journey.
  9. Cats are superior! Cat butts, cats watching television, cats licking each other’s ears, cats, cats, and more cats!
  10. When the entire world is on fire, remain cool, calm, and collected. Something Sarah may not notice she brings to stressful situation is a wonderful, calming presence. She always seems so relaxed and unaffected by the stressor that you can’t help but also remain calm when she’s around you!
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