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Peggy Sanders
peggy@peggysanders.com

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Sanders: Our farmers market

The town of Hot Springs, S.D., will have an official "farmer's market," starting soon. One person contacted me and as if there had been a time when Hot Springs had areas of "fresh food production."

In this particular case, I don't know what the historical past has to do with current activities but here is a perspective.

There were smallish (by Washington state standards) orchards around the county as well as "truck gardens." The latter were very large gardens grown so the owners could harvest and truck produce throughout the area.

My great-grandparents started an orchard and some of the best photos of them were taken in among their trees. Their gardens were second to none.

“Simply put, they found out that gardening takes a lot of work, whether organic or conventional.”

My grandparents later ran the orchard as well as the truck garden. My dad and his dad delivered products to Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the Black Hills. They also went to Edgemont and Custer stores and others.

Hot Springs residents often had their own gardens. They raised what they needed, put up (canned or dried) and shared the rest.

Several years ago a young couple moved near us from California. They rented a farmhouse where a tiny parcel of land was available for gardening. They planned to be organic farmers and to give all of the produce to local needs.

The husband worked in town and the wife was highly pregnant. Once the baby came his needs gained prominence. Within a few short weeks the garden had all grown up to weeds.

Simply put, they found out that gardening takes a lot of work, whether organic or conventional, and their priorities were (rightly) elsewhere. They moved here thinking the utopia of raising for others was the ultimate and it would be easy.

Just as it is for many who look at farming from the outside, when the facts hit them in the face they realized there is much more to it than it appears.

In recent years a husband and wife bought a few acres 20 miles from their home and planted a small vineyard as well as garden crops. On another small piece of land just outside of their hometown they planted more for a farmer's market.

They had to tend two gardens, water and weed, plus pick items for sale on certain days of the week and run their market. It was a big job.

Since then various entrepreneurs have set up their stands on street corners in town a couple of days per week at an informal farmer's market. Locals soon got used to their offerings and schedules. It seemed to work well.

Then someone moved in and decided to get organized. The plans now are for the market to be open on Friday nights. Various musicians have been lined up for entertainment.

I have not heard how the producers will go about having everything ripe for Friday's picking nor if the street corner sellers will still operate on other days of the week, but it will fun to watch how it all plays out.❖