A Newbie’s Guide to the Farmers’ Market

Honourable mention in the 9th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.

Attire: Straw hats are good. So are hemp sundresses. Accessorize with either a colourful bag handmade from Peruvian cotton (fair-trade) or a wicker basket. Not both.

The Farmers: Do not be alarmed when you stumble across Pony Man wedged between the bannock and hula hoops. Nobody thinks this is appropriate. Least of all Hula Hoop Man. Pony Man sells pony rides. If you are a woman of a certain age (legal), he will offer you a kiss for your toonie instead. From the pony. Although I’m sure he’s open to other suggestions.

Hula Hoop Man is half of Hula Hoop Couple. While Mr. Hula Hoop winds orange and purple electrical tape around irrigation poly tubing, Mrs. Hula Hoop gives hip-swinging lessons on the courthouse steps. It is terribly therapeutic.

Fellow Patrons: Beware the Fashionable Dog Ladies (FDLs). To the farmers’ market they wear full evening makeup, updo’s and trendy jeans, accessorized with designer dogs in rhinestone collars. FDLs do not attend the farmers’ market because they enjoy lilac jam, ostrich eggs and wind chimes made from forks and spoons. Rather, they feel it is stylish to sit in coffee shops sipping lattes (fair-trade) and mention they have been to the market and supported the peasants. FDLs will let their dogs lick the vegetables.

Current Events: Last year there was a farmers’ market scandal. A grocery store (chain) sticker was found on Organic Man’s tomatoes. He quickly pulled it off and gestured to the next booth, muttering about sabotage. Nobody believed him. While his tomatoes are suspect, his zucchini are delightful.

Vendor Etiquette: There are two ways to shop the farmers’ market.

Method One: Observe the wares from the centre of the path between booths. Do not pass into the crease (minimum proximity a customer must be to the booth for a vendor to legitimately engage in talk). Avoid eye contact.

Method Two: Traverse the market from inside the crease. In the zone, if you pause and nod the right way, the vendors will be encouraged and tell you tales of incurable illness (Scarf Lady), how humidity is murder for arthritis (Dog Treats Man), or how the macaroons two booths down aren’t really gluten-free (Bitter Bread Lady).

Perverts and Pot: The vendor to avoid is Mitch. Pot-smoking photographer Mitch. He insists that he prints his pictures on “special” paper. “See how the waves follow you?” he asks. “See how the light makes the tree look like it is growing as we speak?” You will say yes because then maybe he will let you go. Probably a lot of the vendors are smoking marijuana. Organic, of course.

Contests: As you leave the farmers’ market, remember to enter to win market bucks, redeemable with any vendor (except Pony Man). Be sure you put your name in the right contest. The Market Bucks box is perilously close to the entry for the Potato Growing Contest.



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