Memorizing faces and hands
At the Kennett Square Farmers' Market, there is a vendor with the name of Naughty Nutty Love, and down the alley between State and Union streets, Anita's Guacamole is sold, and, for the price of a quarter, architect Will Hurd will impart his wisdom.
At the Downtown Oxford Village Market, customers walk among aisles of vendors with names like Forrest View Orchard, Cardinal Ridge Nursery and Earth Art. Every Saturday from early May to October, those who attend the New Garden Growers Market can get their milk from a place called the God's Country Creamery, and they can get advice from landscape architect Margo Taylor. On Thursday afternoons at the West Grove Farmers' Market, the well-worn hands of farmer Henry Soltzfus of the Clover Hill Farm have helped to cultivate vegetables that have arrived from his farm, not by way of a semi from California.
For the past several decades, we have all heard the drumbeat of a vanishing America, one being slowly, achingly replaced by the impersonality of cookie-cutter developments, where neighbors don't know neighbors; of an America where gray cathedrals of office parks have wrecked the sprawling acreage where farmland once was; and where superstores and outdoor megamalls falsely advertise themselves as our new hometown marketplaces.
In light of all of this march toward the loss of our collective identity, these four markets - and the many just like them - rise up from early spring to late October in gentle, happy defiance, generously filling their tables with what came from southern Chester County earth, or from their hands, or from their skills and talents.
We as a community are not only fortunate to have these markets, we are blessed and enriched by those farmers and crafters and artisans who showcase their work. There's a good chance that not one millionaire or billionaire exists among them, but of those whose vision it is to supposedly move America forward - those who build office parks and shopping malls and the sprawling developments - we politely ask, do we know any of their faces? Have we ever stopped to admire the colors of their work, or memorized their hands?
In the gentle defiance of what's left of Americana, it is the work of the candle makers and wine growers and farmers, whom we speak to every week, who define what southern Chester County really is. For that, the remainder of us are the mere beneficiaries.