08 April 2010

Opening Day 2010

A glimpse into the world of PFM’s Senior Market Manager, Jaret Foster

Saturday, March 20

5:05 am

I’m up but have been awake since 4:30 in anticipation of the market today. I went to sleep thinking about how we were ever going to get Gathering Together Farm with their 20 foot semi truck into their new stall and woke to the same predicament. I decided we’ll just have to get there and see. I step outside to have a look at the sky. It’s chilly but not cold and what I can see of the clouds don’t look to hold rain. The forecast said 20% chance so I grab my light rain jacket and rain pants just in case. I double check that I have shopping bags, my water bottle and that my cell phone is on to vibrate and turned up to the highest setting. I like to put on my fanny pack/belt pocket thing before I get to the market so that it’s ready for my radio, chalk and market map when I get there.


As I cross Broadway the driver from Gabriel’s Bakery sounds the horn and waves as he hits the gas to get back to the shop. It’s almost six and it seems he’s running a little late; they are usually all set up before I even get in, their booth staff shows later. I pause to open the other half of the gate PSU had installed on Harrison last season and to slide the dumpsters off to the side. Around 7:30 or 8 the hauler comes to empty them and we’ll have to move them again so that the last of the vendors and then the first of the shoppers can navigate the breezeway into the market. As I round the corner I notice that Gabriel’s has again set up their booth a foot into the aisle way; we’ll have to move them back so that the rest of the trucks can get by and maximize the aisle for shopping. I wave hello to Gray the owner of Spunky Monkey Coffee, another early riser, and remind myself to chat with him later about promoting his new coffee shop on our Twitter account. I greet Joe, our Market Coordinator for the King Market who has again beat me here. He bikes in most days from Southeast but today took the bus. We chat briefly about the luck of no rain and he points out that someone drove over the grass at Montgomery St. in front of the Benson House but since no one is on the east side of the market yet I surmise that it must have happened late last night likely by a lost student and not one of our vendors. Driving on the grass is one of the bigger offenses when setting up in a city park. We are so fortunate to be here and I hope not to see photo evidence in my email inbox on Monday from PSU’s landscape office.


I hear the familiar roar of our market truck and look to see Jamie our Market Coordinator for PSU and Buckman markets coming up the park blocks with all of our equipment. Years ago one of our Board members donated a used 15 foot GMC box van which we kitted out with shelving and corrals for our tents, weights, signs, tables & chairs, totes of merchandise and what still astounds me as an incredible amount of bric-a-brac that we use to make the market go. The other staff starts to arrive and I step away to help get some of our new vendors into their new homes.


I’m hauling a 70# canopy on my shoulder up to the south stage for the musicians and Charlie Hertel from Vicki’s @ Sun Gold Farm stops me to ask if it’s alright to move his truck and trailer the wrong way down a one way. I explain to him that any missed opportunity to move a truck is a lost one and to do so. Please! After dropping the canopy off I check in with our new hot food vendors Tonya and Kevin of Via Chicago Pizza to see how they are doing with the chaos of load in/out. They have a huge table top oven which they roll off of an old trailer which, with the construction fencing blocking over half of our entrances and exits they have to back down the 15 foot walkway all the way from College Street to Hall. They smile and say it’s no problem but I can see they are feeling the stresses and we’re only a few weeks into a 40 week season.


I notice it’s just after eight so I break away from a conversation with Marven from Winters Farm about Drosophila Suzukii, the crop destroying, spotted fruit fly that attacks fresh fruit that showed up on his farm last September, to get the last of the vendors to get their vehicles out of the market. We open in just under a half hour and the first shoppers are traipsing about making their first lap to see what’s available. I notice that Barb from Freddy Guys Hazelnuts is struggling with a large bag of shells and offer to help with the load. She waves me off and says she’s got it and continues down to the Info Booth to drop off what must be a bulk order for pick up later on. I cross the market to ask Pierre from Juniper Grove if he’s ready to roll and whether or not he’s ever going to take off the studded tires. He laughs and says he’ll do so in time for spring. I smile and look up to the lightening sky. I notice a customer walk past with an arm load of tulips wrapped up in tell tale white butcher paper denoting it’s from one of our Hmong vendors. Vendors are not to sell before opening bell but I didn’t see who it was and there are worse offenses.


I make my way quickly up to the Managers Booth after checking in at Info to see that someone will ring the opening bell there. Robert, our star volunteer, has it covered. This season we ring two bells, one at each of our staffs booths and I like to, loosely, coordinate their chimes. With luck, once I ring the Swiss cowbell I tooled to a leather strop this year for us, Ben from NW Heritage Pork will ring his chow triangle with whoops and hollers, Robert will sound the ships bell that Curly from Osmogaia donated from his time as a merchant marine and the shoppers and vendors will call out and applaud in celebration of the markets opening. 8:30 sharp!