Lessons from the Market

Copley Square Farmers Market, Boston. Hot, 90s. Solo. Lugging all the things—tent, shrub, flowers, table, "hand washing station" (milk crate, water jug, metal pail, soap), chair, banner—the list goes on. We've gotten this down to a reasonably efficient program, and this is one of my main areas of strength: I am a natural-born hauler.

The day proceeds somewhat lazily. There is a casual stream of people that ebbs and flows, some shrub curious, less shrub purchasing. My Shopify square isn’t working, and I’ve again forgotten the clips that keep the tablecloth somewhat in place. I am getting increasingly hot and—it will surprise no one who knows me—cranky. Veering toward self-pitying. And I am alone woman-ing the booth, which I can work with to make everything worse.

The Copley Square market sits in a beautiful spot between Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library. Gorgeous. Historic. And in the crosshairs of a serious wind tunnel. And this day was a gusty one, which does little to cool things down and has a lot to do with what happens next. Mid-conversation with a potential shrubber, the whole thing—tent, table, display, bottle, flowers, bags of rocks supposedly holding things in place—blows into the street. As I stare in disbelief, everyone around me springs into calm and effective action. The potential customer picks up flowers and puts them back into the vase. Vendors descend on the situation in concert—two grab the tent, another rights the table, two others bring additional bungee cords to secure the tent, which is now back in its place, and someone else starts duct taping the broken tent strut. In maybe two minutes, this SWAT team of farmers’ market veterans completely takes care of the situation and returns to their respective perches. They are nonchalant in the face of my profuse thank yous, each saying some version of “It’s just what we do. We’ve all been there before.” I feel a part of a community that cares and takes care wordlessly, automatically, and gracefully. It turns out I was not so solo after all.

Creating community through sharing everyday goodnesses given and received with generosity and care is one of the central aims of Urban Pharm. It is easy to lose sight of the care and community that surrounds us at the ready. Take a look around, look up, look out, and I bet you’ll find something beautiful, more likely than not, in your own backyard.

❤️ Jill

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