I think it’s been four weeks now that I’ve been setting up my little tables at the Poynette Farmer’s Market. Each week I find myself a little more put-together. That first week, I had only 1 table and a meager selection of unusual, not-incredibly-robust seedlings. My expectations were pretty low – it’s a small, casual market in a small, casual town, which is precisely why it is such a good market for me to start with, to get my feet wet. A small, casual market, however, is not exactly the best place to expect to sell many obscure medicinal herbs or lesser-known heirloom varieties. It sure as hell is not the place one would expect to be able to sell bunches of stinging nettles – well known in these parts as a bane to gardeners and hikers alike. But I did.
Oh, I’ve spoken before of my love for nettles and the goldmine of nutrients they impart. This wasn’t some random grasping at straws, trying-to-fill-up-a-table move; it’s more of a personal mission. Still, my personal enthusiasm aside, the abrasive nature of Sister Nettle is quite a hurdle to overcome when trying to distill her finer qualities into a bite-size onslaught of (enthusiastic!) information in the seconds it takes for a market-goer to pass by my table. That I would show up at market trying to sell this noxious weed was utterly ridiculous, at least in these parts, and I declared it so to my fellow market sellers as I was setting up, poking fun at my own naivete. But I have free samples! I said. Of delicious soup! And that is how I lured them in. A good friend recently shared a wonderful nettle soup recipe with me, so with her blessings, I made up a batch, printed up a bazillion copies of the recipe, and one by one, began winning over the doubtful but adventurous marketers. Of course there were those that wouldn’t come within 5 feet of my table upon seeing the nettles, or nearly took off running when I offered the soup samples. “I have a very sensitive stomach,” I was told by one. And when I handled the bunches of washed, mostly sting-free nettles with carefree ease, there were eyeballs that nearly popped out of their sockets.
What a rush, this market business! I was quite unprepared for how much I love doing it. It’s far surpassed my meager expectations, most definitely so, but more importantly, it’s become something I look forward to doing every single week. Meeting the people in my community, selling something I raised from seed, cultivating a reputation as a quirky, what-will-she-pull-out-of-her-hat-next kind of girl…all of it is so, so satisfying. Last week I declared that my booth would be different every single week. It’s an evolving process, and I’m finding it the ability to tweak it from week to week so liberating. What a welcome, refreshing change from my last experiences with setting up a booth (a lifetime ago) on the craft fair circuit, where it was a one-shot, wish I had time to do x deal.
And I sold nettles. It’s a lesson – free samples and a heap o’ enthusiasm go a long, long way. I sort-of feel like I can do anything now.