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Since the unwelcome arrival of the pandemic in the United States, nearly everything changed. But life must go on.

I have been a supporter of the Boise Farmers Market for many years. It’s fun to visit with local ranchers and farmers who make the trip each Saturday to peddle their wares. But a vibrant open-air marketplace with shoppers crowded elbow to elbow is neither wise nor legal. Our local organization scrambled to provide a new way for local producers to connect with loyal, but cautious customers.

In April, the Boise Farmers Market rolled out a new paradigm in shopping local with an online ordering system followed by a drive-through pickup process. During the ordering process customers select a 15-minute pick-up appointment. Biking and pedestrian pickups are also accommodated. The new process relies heavily on volunteers on market day. Each order must be carefully filled, then bagged, then staged for the customer to pick up.

I log between five and seven miles each Saturday shift. One June Saturday treated us to a morning thunder and lightning display followed by rain showers. The following week it poured the entire morning. That day I came home so wet that even my undies sloshed! But I always feel good when I get home. The volunteers and vendors are a delightful flock of smiles and cheer, despite being trussed up in gloves and masks. And we are always provided with a tasty treat to bring home. Vendors often offer left over product to volunteers. Sometimes we’re even serenaded by barely-employed musicians while we work.

The best part of this experience is the variety and beauty of the produce I encounter. I’ve been exposed to things I had never heard off before, let alone cooked or tasted. Curiosity prompts me to explore some of these delights in dining. Some of my successes have been Chiogga Beets, Cegolaine Lettuce, and garlic scapes.

Cegolaine Lettuce. It looks too good to eat!

I tried fava beans last week. I may not try those again. Or maybe I just need a nice bottle of Chianti to go with them.

Part of the flock of fun: photo by Guy Hand

We are all trussed up in masks and gloves so I don’t bother taking photos at the market. Instead I’ll leave you with the handy work of master photo and videographer, Guy Hand.

Happy Independence Day.