Ever wonder what it takes to run a Farmers’ Market? If not, that is exactly as it should be.
“Don’t worry about how it got here, just know we are doing the worrying,” says Ed Smith, the St. Helena Farmers’ Market Manager. And he should know, as he’s been managing our Market operations for 17 seasons.
Smith started with the SHFM as a volunteer Board Member and past President. At the time, he was a friend of Lee Topham, then President, who knew that Smith had Fridays off and was probably “willing to get up at 5 am” to help. So Lee asked Smith if he would volunteer. And there it began.
Now every Friday, Smith rises at 4:30 am to start setting up road and Market signs, then orchestrates the vendors arriving. He knows in advance which vendors will be there that week, the size of their vehicles, tents and tables. Then, mapping out the placement of each vendor, he directs each vehicle into its designated spot. Next, working with the Market’s two employees, Pedro and Temo, they work to set up the seating area, Market Classroom and General Store and get the coffee machine heated.
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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 Departments,” Smith tells me. “All growers must be certified annually,” and Smith checks to make sure each vendor’s requirements are in order. For food vendors, a similar process occurs with the Health Department. “When the season gets revving, my work actually calms down,” Smith says.
When asked what’s the best part of his job, he quickly responds “seeing the smiling faces of our patrons, I love the customers.” “The vendors are great too,” and he enjoys working with them to make a happy environment. Self-described as a behind-the-scenes guy, he does enjoy when patrons stop and say hello.
So, next time you visit the Market, wave to the guy in the orange vest, who made it all happen, seamlessly, healthily, and happily.
Also this week, the St. Helena Hospital Foundation Mobile Van is making an extra appearance with the new COVID bivalent vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) and Seasonal influenza (flu) vaccines. And Napa County’s Jessica Sickels, EMT-B, will be showing the art of Hands Only CPR, First Aid and taking blood pressure. Market Shoppers will be able to check out their ambulance firsthand and meet their Goldendoodle therapy dog. All while hearing the beautiful sounds from Linda Marks’ music students.
We hope to see you every Friday through Oct. 28 from 7:30 until noon in beautiful Crane Park. Stay in-the-know through our newsletter, Instagram, Facebook or Nextdoor St. Helena.
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Ann Costelloe is a member of the St. Helena Farmers’ Market Board of Directors.