Have you ever wondered what it takes to run a farmers market? If not, that’s exactly how it should be.
“Don’t worry about how it got here, just know that we take care of those worries,” says Ed Smith, St. Helena’s Farmers’ Market Manager. And he should know, having been leading our market operations for 17 seasons.
Smith started at SHFM as an honorary board member and past president. At the time, he was a friend of Lee Topham, then-President, who knew Smith had Fridays off and was probably “willing to get up at 5 a.m.” to help. So Lee asked Smith if he would volunteer. And that’s where it started.
Now, every Friday, Smith gets up at 4:30 a.m. to begin putting up street and market signs and then orchestrating the arriving vendors. He knows in advance which vendors will be there that week, the size of their vehicles, tents and tables. He then determines the placement of each vendor and directs each vehicle to its designated spot. Next, they work with the market’s two employees, Pedro and Temo, to set up the seating area, market classroom, general store, and heat up the coffee maker.
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That’s a lot of work, but most of the work is actually done between January and May before our season starts.
“January starts with the ag and health authorities,” says Smith. “All growers must be certified annually,” and Smith verifies that each vendor’s requirements are in order. A similar process takes place at the health department for food sellers. “As the season picks up speed, my work actually settles down,” says Smith.
When asked what the best part about his job is, he’s quick to reply, “When I see the smiling faces of our customers, I love the customers.” “The vendors are great too,” and he enjoys working with them to create one create happy environment. He describes himself as a behind-the-scenes guy and enjoys when guests stop and say hello.
So next time you visit the market, wave to the guy in the orange vest who made everything smooth, healthy and happy.
Also this week, the St. Helena Hospital Foundation mobile van is making an additional appearance with the new bivalent COVID vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) and seasonal influenza (flu) vaccines. And Napa County EMT-B Jessica Sickels will demonstrate the art of Hands Only CPR, first aid and blood pressure measurement. Market shoppers can see their ambulance firsthand and meet their Goldendoodle therapy dog. And all while listening to the beautiful sounds of Linda Marks’ music students.
We hope to see you at beautiful Crane Park every Friday through October 28th from 7:30am to noon. Stay up to date via our newsletter, Instagram, Facebook or Nextdoor St. Helena.
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Ann Costelloe is a board member of the St. Helena Farmers’ Market.