Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Farmers market is the place for new friends

Once local produce is ready to harvest, farmers markets pop up in the area like tulips in early spring.

One example is the market in downtown Adrian, which is held Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. It not only mirrors Lenawee County s pockets of rich agriculture history, but also serves as a fresh-air social center, rain or shine.

The vendors selling everything from zucchini bread and Amish noodles to tree-ripe peaches and green tomatoes don t object to ringing up the sales, but they especially look forward to seeing friends they have made since the market has been in operation in a bank parking lot.

In a quick tour of the market last Saturday morning, farmers from the Britton, Palmyra, Deerfield, and Sand Creek communities in Michigan were selling the fruits of their labor and were ready to chat between sales.

Marvin Sharrock of Deerfield, who has been working on the family farm since he was a child and has dug potatoes by hand, said, I like the people who come here; the customers are the best part of it.

And what do you least like, Mr. Sharrock? The hot sun was his answer, but it s that sun that ripens the tomatoes, plumps the green beans, and makes other fruits and vegetables ready for market.

Growing and selling produce may be a lot of work, but it s still the choice of some retirees.

After his retirement as a Lenawee County circuit court reporter, Rod Skow stepped up his farming avocation. I love it. It s hands and knees work that I have been doing all my life, the man who farms in Ogden Township said at his roadside stand as he wrapped romaine and explained that the corn was picked that morning.

Rose Powell has a lot of acquaintances who patronize the market and not just because she sells what she calls snakes. Ms. Powell was director of the Lenawee County senior citizens program for 30 years. After retirement, she decided to expand the garden she had always had to produce food to can and freeze. She signed up as a market vendor.

The market has been a welcome lifestyle change for the Ogden Township resident who enjoys being outdoors in contrast to her longtime inside office job. And it keeps me in touch with the public, that s what I like, she added. As for Ms. Powell s $12 snakes, they may be three and four feet long, but they don t move around. She calls the lengthy hollow gourds snakes for fun, and says she has to charge that much because some years you don t get any gourds that size. Crafters buy the long gourds to use in decorations, according to Ms. Powell.

Wes Tiede of Britton tells customers that if they can t get to Ohio Amish country, just stop by and see him. Mr. Tiede sells some fresh vegetables but his main sales line is Mrs. Miller s jelly and noodle products from Fredericksburg in Holmes County. I wonder how pumpkin butter would taste on zucchini bread?

Wearing a purple umbrella hat and wrapping mini bouquets of flowers he calls bundles of joy, Jim Johnson stopped to explain why he always has a big smile on market day.

I just love to share my flowers with this community, he said, adding that he decided it was a great place to live as soon as he moved to Lenawee from San Antonio. Mr. Johnson s flowers occupy considerable space at the market, but there is still room at his stall for his wife, Beverly Larsen, to pursue her knitting hobby while market-goers stand around and say, what s that?

The what s that is Ms. Larsen s antique stocking knitter. She boasts that the machine is 120 years old and that she was happy to find it on the Internet. After she bought the machine she gave all of their old stockings to Goodwill and began making socks in many colors and lengths in acrylic and cotton, including pairs for Mr. Johnson s size 17 feet.

I love antiques, and this is one I can use, she said while directing bright blue yarn into the machine that is small enough to sit on top of a kitchen stool. A retired recreation director at the Adrian Training School, Ms. Larsen identifies herself as a leisure purist who finds pleasure in other lost arts, including chair caning.

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