As we head toward the last market of the season, it has been roughly six months since the first market of the season; a market that almost never was.
This year's Monroeville Lions Farmers Market almost never was. And, if it wasn't for the hard work and perseverance of a number of people, it wouldn't have been.
The final planning of the market was occurring during the heat of the COVID lock down. All types of businesses were shut down. Many of our friends and family were out of work. And people were afraid. Some felt the market should not open or could not open safely. However, others understood the importance of providing local fresh food to our community as well as a sense of normalcy. Personally, I think the sense of normalcy was more important than the products that we provided
By the time the market finally opened, many in our community had already been locked down roughly 60 days. As a vendor, I know my fingers were crossed. So many people had the power and ability to shut us down. We were being forced to follow new rules. Parking was going to be a struggle. The Governor, Allegheny County, Monroeville and the Lions all had the ability to say "no" to the market opening. All of us were forced to navigate new levels of rules and bureaucracy. But, everyone from the Governor, through the County Executive and Department of Health, to Monroeville Council and Mayor recognized that the distribution of fresh food was critical and the market was, in fact, an essential service. So with new rules in place, the market opened and the first day was wonderfully successful. People were thrilled to be able to have a sense of normalcy on a spring Saturday morning.
The following 20 plus weeks of spring, summer and deep into the fall, the market was wildly success. People recognized the critical role our local farmers play and showed their appreciation by attending. Some traditions were modified. Families were asked to limit attending as a group, we asked people not to "linger", we had to limit on site eating but all in all, it was a great season.
There are a few people that I think are important to mention with our successful season. This would not have happened without their strong support. As many who know my politics know, I am not usually a vocal supporter of my local government, but I cannot help but mention that without Monroeville's help, we would not have opened. Both the elected officials on Council, the Mayor and the professionals in the Parks and Recs Department knew we HAD to open.
Visit Monroeville was also an amazing supporter of our market. Even while dealing with necessary downsizing and cuts within their organization, Sean Logan and his staff continued to work to advocate for the opening of the market. They knew what we knew-the market provided necessary fresh food, the market provided a sense of normalcy and the market is one of Monroeville's many shining stars. Visit Monroeville even gave the market prime time advertising on the sign in the center of town.
I think it is important to recognize my fellow vendors and farmers who made our market a success. Besides having to deal with the struggles of farming and running a business, these people had to learn new rules. They needed to reinvent how they interacted with the public. Masks, social distancing, hand washing, taking contactless orders all became second nature. We made it work.
And lastly and most importantly, I personally want to thank the residents of Monroeville and the visitors from the surrounding area who attended our market and helped make it a success. All of us had to deal with new rules. Some of us liked the rules and some of us resented the rules but we all knew that we needed to follow the rules for the market to open and for the market to be a success. People came and they bought. People came and they spent. People supported the small businesses that make our market a success.
One more week to go Monroeville! Come and celebrate with us. Enjoy the last day of the market for the 2020 season. Stop over and buy something for your Thanksgiving table. Stop by and buy something to give to a neighbor or a friend. Maybe make a gift purchase for someone either for Thanksgiving or in anticipation of Christmas.
Hopefully, by the spring, we will have a working vaccine that will help make our most vulnerable friends and neighbors safe. Hopefully, by the spring, we will be back to the old normal. And if we are still working in this new normal, know that the farmers will be working hard to put food on your table.
Personally, I want to thank everyone who visited my table to talk about my bees or to make a purchase. Maybe we got to share some time learning about new delicious ways to enjoy honey. Maybe you are one of many who heard my sermon comparing wine to honey and honey to wine! I want to thank everyone who made a purchase and I also want to thank anyone who referred a friend to me.
Me and the bees thank you!
See you in 2021!