Of course I wanted Meet Your Farmer ’18 to be a success. I wanted to fill our parking lot with local food producers and get the public to show up in droves. I wanted everyone to leave having learned something, resolved to participate more in the local food economy. And a week removed from the late April blizzard, I wanted 80°.

Was it too much to ask for?

Our Meet Your Farmer planning team spent six weeks focusing on how we could build the event up, make it more engaging and more educational than previous years. Produce manager Rachel headed the event. She brainstormed with our food producers on ways to make the vendor’s tables more engaging.

We wanted to get the word out to the press. “The Word” was not only that Meet Your Farmer was happening, but that local foods MUST happen. Through our research, we deepened our understanding of how local food systems benefit our physical health, our economies, and the earth. Local foods literally provide the most nutrients. Local systems increase jobs and wages and result in less carbon emissions. Local foods are more than a market trend, it’s a return to our ancestral heritage.

Sam Serbus designed a wonderful poster for the event. She used actual dirt for the lettering and shaped the soil by hand with a Q-tip. Word was out: Meet Your Farmer is a big deal.

How did it all turn out?

We ended up with 18 participating vendors, ten more than the previous year, and their table displays were exceptional. Folks brought photographs and samples. They brought free flowers and literature on local foods. Vendors brought sign-ups, seeds, giveaways, honeycombs, microgreen trays, and more.

It’s fair to estimate we had two hundred people attend in M.Y.F. this May. The first hour was fairly quiet. I took the time to connect with as many vendors as I could. When I got to chatting with Lisa Muth of Goosemobile, I said that everything had come together nicely, but I hoped more people would turn out. She reassured me, “It’s like this at the markets. Just when you get to wondering if the people will show up, they all come at once.”

How true, because over the next two hours, the parking lot buzzed with visitors. People ate, drank, and conversed. I watched the night unfold with a sense of joy. I love being a part of community-building events, and that’s the vibe I got from Meet Your Farmer this year.

I heard from one local food activist say that he considered skipping the event because he was worn down from the work week. He showed up anyway and stayed for hours. He said he left the event feeling energized and inspired to work harder for local foods.

And yes, the day reached 80° and we all left sun-kissed.

Meet Your Farmer. A spring celebration. A party with a purpose.

We’ll see you there next May.