My colleague Zoe has excitedly shared with me all year information about the Hamilton Farmers Market where she shops for her family’s weekly groceries. Before our first trip to the Market with our class I thought I would visit the Market with my family so that I had a sense of what was there and where I would be taking the kids to visit.
Being a Mountain person, I am totally spoiled when it comes to parking.This first part of the trip started to create angst in me.We had three primary aged children with us that we had to navigate through downtown to the Market. I would love to say that they are these perfectly well behaved children that would walk in a single file line, but they are not. Have you ever heard the saying, “God made us cousins because our parents couldn’t handle us as siblings.” saying? Well, it applies perfectly to our little crew!
We arrived at the Market and were shocked at the size. Every direction we turned had different vendors for different products. I honestly didn’t know how to shop at a market. I am so used to navigating a grocery store and using a check out system using debit, that it was very unusual for me to see multiple vendors selling the same item and using only cash for purchases. The open style of the Market and the hustle of the people became overwhelming. I left that day very uncertain of what to expect when we took our students.
The day of our first trip came and I hesitantly embarked on our outing. Much to my surprise, the experience was totally different than when I went on Saturday. What was the difference? The difference was that I now had a tour guide. Someone with knowledge of the Market who could navigate me through everything! Someone who knew various vendors and allowed me to see the incredible personal side of the Market.
I have now taken three different classes to the Market and each time I go I enjoy it more than the previous time. Instead of feeling the anxiety that I felt on the first day, I feel comfortable talking to the vendors that I have seen on previous trips. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at where to shop and eat, I look forward to seeing what menu items some favourite places have to sample (Lina's European Pastries, Sensational Samosas or Eat Industries).
I can now see why people who shop at the Market prefer it to a grocery store. Those who run their stalls are invested in their shop in a much different way than an employee. They really appreciate their customers and therefore treat them with respect and do not take them for granted. I was impressed on many occasions as I watched vendors interact with the small children who were visiting the Market with their families.
Will I return to the Market in the future? Absolutely! Once I understood how a Market worked and left behind me my grocery store expectations, I really enjoyed the Market! As you get to know the various vendors, you start to gain a greater trust in the products that you are buying. It is nice to know where your food is coming from and who prepared it.