When a group of farmers decided to meet in a dirt lot in the Los Angeles area in the 1930s with their loaded down trucks they probably had no idea what they were starting. A creative way to move produce, dairy and flowers has become an American institution, the local farmers market. I visited one in Richmond yesterday.

We passed Cecil playing his guitar and singing twangy blues as we walked into the sea of tents and colors. I wondered where else he plays for tips during the week. Jill and David go to the market in Forest Hill Park every Saturday to buy eggs, bread and veggies. All the produce is so fresh and natural. Just being there made me feel like I was somehow reducing my carbon footprint.

There were local artists showcasing their paintings, jewelry, and pottery. Like an emergency vehicle, Crossroads Coffee House was there in their mobile coffee unit with just-out-of-the-oven scones and rolls and all the favorite speciality coffees. There were booths set up selling soaps, candles, wood, clothing and fresh rabbit livers. Really, rabbit livers? Is that something that can be sold legally?

And the dogs. Everyone had brought their dogs along. I suppose it’s a social opportunity for them as well.

You could tell the majority of the folks milling through the booths were repeat customers by the way they talked and hugged each other’s kids. The market was similar to a business social hour. Business is done, networking accomplished, goods are moved and everyone goes home happy.

Something so simple is fundamental in the make up of American free enterprise. What started with a group of farmers with a good idea now seems to be the environmentally responsible thing to do on a Saturday morning.

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