Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
There is a day in Milwaukee that comes once a year, and it is difficult to pinpoint. It is the day when spring is realized; a day often having nothing to do with the “First Day of Spring” as stated on the calendar. Here in the Midwest, there is a long, grueling struggle to finally reach this day, this point of no return when frosty mornings, wintery gusts, and unexpected snow falls give way to daffodils, tulips, and flowering cherry and apple trees.
For me, this day arrives on the first Saturday of May: opening day of our Farmer’s Market season.
In the past couple of weeks, Wisconsin’s weather has been in a very unstable state, teetering from 70 degrees and sunny, to snowfall within a day’s notice. Fortunately, our unpredictable weather did not deter our local farmers. On the very first day of the market, we were met with beautiful spinach, asparagus, green onions, and carrots. Many vendors offered fresh eggs and pasture-raised meats. Some offered fresh bakery, jams, preserves, and pickled vegetables. As always, our markets remain true to their Wisconsin heart; you can always find a booth (or two or three) with fresh, delicious cheeses.
Last year I approached the farmer’s market as an amateur, inexperienced and without aim. I was shy to approach the vendors and their unfamiliar produce. However, the more we made the market a regular visit, and the more comfortable we became with fresh produce in general, the more I branched out to try new foods, and integrate unfamiliar fruits and vegetables into our own kitchen.
Last year my husband challenged me to choose one ingredient each week which I had never eaten or cooked, and to bring it home and find something delicious to do with it! This led to a lot of surprisingly tasty meals, and of course some failures. With both success and failure came a wealth of knowledge and experience with various fruits and vegetables.
The farmer’s market is about an experience. It is about connecting with our community and supporting local farmers. It’s about eating the freshest produce, dairy, bakery and meat we can get our hands on (unless of course we produce it at home). Most importantly in our home, the farmer’s market is about experiencing all of these things as a family.
Last year we adopted a new tradition as a family surrounding the market. Every Saturday morning we venture downtown to peruse the market and select our fresh produce, meat and cheese for the week. We then go to one of our favorite local restaurants for coffee and breakfast. This quickly became our favorite occasion of the week.
Along with simply enjoying time together, the farmer’s market is where I can connect my children with the food they eat. It offers them the experience of being surrounded by a beautiful array of colorful, exciting fruits and vegetables, and to build anticipation for eating them throughout the week! They see the smiling, friendly faces of those who take care of our food before it reaches our home.
Last year Ezekiel was still quite young to enjoy the market beyond cheese and apple cider samples. This year I am excited to use the market to teach him about how our foods are produced, and to build curiosity for new foods by allowing him to choose what he wants to try.
1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Last year while planning my garden, I picked up a seedling at the farmer’s market, gave it a strong sniff, then asked the farmer what it was. He was kind, but did give me a bit of a dumbfounded look. “That’s lettuce.” Sure, I was embarrassed, but I learned what baby lettuce looks like!
2) Try something new every week. Don’t be afraid to purchase something because it’s pretty or interesting; that is a very valid reason to try something new! Take it home, put a few minutes into researching preparation and how to cook it, and enjoy the experiment! Some will fail, but some will turn into new family favorites. This is a great way to integrate a wide range of nutritional fruits and vegetables into your home.
3) Make it a family affair. Whether you begin making the market a regular visit once a week or once a month, make it a point to include your family in this adventure. Make it an event by building anticipation, buying exciting ingredients, allowing everyone to choose an ingredient they enjoy or want to try, and buying a treat or two for the family to enjoy while shopping.
4) Plan ahead and allocate some money for the market. Don’t be afraid to reserve some of your weekly grocery money for the market. During the summer months when more produce is in season, we actually buy 75% of our weekly groceries at the farmer’s market; it’s simply our best resource for great food. When we already have the money set aside for this specific purpose, we don’t feel bad for making purchases at the market.
There are many things that set apart a trip to the farmer’s market from a trip to our regular grocery store. A trip to our regular store finds us surrounded by frazzled shoppers, checking items off their list as they rush to checkout and get out. A trip to the farmer’s market, on the other hand, is characterized by a leisurely pace. There is no rush; well, unless the fresh cheese curd samples are running out. Everyone there wants to be there. The “workers” want to be engaged; to be asked questions about the products, because they themselves produced them with care! Out in the open air, my family enjoys God’s beautiful creation as we go about buying our groceries for the week. That’s a shopping experience everyone can enjoy.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!