|From left to right: Denis Zenchenko, Natanel Velez, Ruby Maddox
Ahhh, it’s that time of year again, when we don our bright orange GtC shirts, load the produce trailer, and bike our way across several miles of the rugged streets of Springfield, to sell at the Shriners Hospital Farmers’ Market! As always, Shriners Hospital is very generous and supportive of our market, purchasing fresh, organic veggies, providing us with tables, chairs, and other needed accessories, and encouraging us in our difficult yet important mission. Two trips have been made already, four people per trip, and both have been extremely fun. Jacob and I(Denis), attend and will be attending every week, with two other members of the staff or youth. I have pulled the produce trailer both times, there and back, for the first time in my three years of working at Gardening the Community.
Thursday mornings are full of work, as we spend the morning harvesting and preparing for the trip. Harvest includes anything from assorted flowers, red potatoes, waxed beans, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli, to squash, green beans, and fresh herbs. At about 10:30, we saddle up on our bikes and head off to Shriners, arriving at about 11 o’clock. After a few minutes of set-up, nurses, patients, and locals swarm our table during the lunchtime rush. After things settle down, we eat our lunch, provided by the ever hospitable Shriners Hospital. At about 1:30, we pack up our stuff and bike back to the garden, where equipment is put away and people go home. This is the general procedure of our Thursdays at GtC, but, as expected, there is something different, every time we go.
The first Thursday that we went, we had a decent amount of produce left over. Things were slow and we ended up taking a lot of veggies home for ourselves. But during the second trip, we nearly sold out of everything. Students from Zanetti Montessori School stopped by to learn about a few of our organic veggies and to purchase a healthy snack. Nurses come out and showered us with complements about how beautiful our flowers are and how low our prices are. At about 1:30, we packed our trailer and biked back to the garden. The few veggies that were left over were divided up, and the four of us went home, feeling accomplished and satisfied with our work. Per usual, the earnings from the market were saved and recycled back into the program. Yet another successful market at Shriners Hospital.