Saturday in the Park, I think it was the Fourth of July

For My Love of Farmer’s Markets & Great Stories

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a inquisitive girl with an endless imagination. Exploring her surroundings she encountered both friend and stranger. And when faced with an unanswered question she found it much easier to dream up a solution than trek through the woods in search of the truth.

Although this little known phrase may start timeless tales of childhood wonder, and  eventually be followed with the ever so popular “and they lived happily ever after”, life seldom is this clear and simple. Is dreaming up outcomes and making up stories the best way to start solving a problem and achieve that ultimate perfect ending to the story?

Over the last year I had the opportunity to work with a very talented lady on the subject of team building and communication in the work place. The most significant take away for me was the concept of “making up stories”. The concept is pretty simple. When faced with hear say, situations with holes in the details, or the art of reading another’s mind, just stop, open your mouth and ask the clarifying question. Start with the truth instead of your mind’s version of the tale.

Sounds fairly simple.  From my professional life to my to personnel relationships, I find myself constantly reminded not to make up a story. This valuable lesson has come in handy in the classroom as students toss ideas around instead of doing the research and asking the questions. And surprising enough I have discovered for most of us it is easier to make up the story than to actually take the time to form a clarifying sentence. Why is that. Are we just lazy? In a hurry? In need of entertainment? Or just stuck in a cycle of story telling?

Although it can be hurtful and down right frustrating having imagines dancing around in your head that are completely a figment of an outcome created in the space between your ears. It can also be fun. For example, who hasn’t sat at a restaurant and made up the fairytale story of the couple sitting in the neighboring booth? I decided to take this practice to the streets so to speak, and get to the bottom instaed of creating a tale for some unsuspecting stranger.

I love going to Farmer’s Market each week. It makes me happy. The thought of buying fresh goods and creating a culinary gem is truly a joy. After years of attending Templeton Park on Saturday mornings, the location of my favorite vendors and their products are second nature to me. Yet, there is one stand that I have never visited but is totally fascinating. Do I have my story all made up? Guilty as charged.

A single commodity stand with the same gentleman standing behind his table can be found park side come rain or shine. He sells squash and his product is perfectly presented, polished and uniform in size, shape and color. However, his inventory is always very low, sometime less than 15 vegetables. The economist in me just can’t wrap my head around how he can afford to continue to maintain his stand week in and week out. He is a perfect stranger that I insist on writing his biography. So I decided last week to change this pattern.

When I told my mother my plan to set the story straight so to speak, she was concerned that I would be arrested for stalking the poor squash salesman. But I am happy to report my findings and assure no security had to be called.

James DeWelt is a second generation farmer from Atascadero. His parents actually helped start the Farmer’s Market and he felt the need to carry on the family tradition after their passing. He grows one of the finest strands of zucchini. He plants five, 30ft rows which he starts a new batch of squash every three weeks to insure proper pollination. When a plant starts to show sign of age, he will replace with a new baby squash vine. He offers a very competitive price of $3/ pound. And he had clients lined up once the opening bell rang.

After our nice, educational chat, I purchased a pound of this exquisite vegetable. That night as we dined on our fact finding zucchini I couldn’t help but wonder, was it really the best squash I had ever cooked or did it just taste so good because I knew the real story?

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