The Power of Belonging
It may be hard for people who know me now, but in my younger days I was pretty quiet and shy. The ability to talk to anyone about almost anything came later, once I entered the work world and was required to go meet with a lot of strangers and convince them to participate in a new statewide program. One-on-one, I learned I could find something in common with just about everyone. And once we could chit chat I could say what I needed to say for the job and persuade them to do their part. So, I learned to overcome shyness…and it is a lot of fun to talk to people!
I really enjoy the time I spend at The Wild Ramp Market each week. I started working on Wednesday mornings because at that time it was the first day the market was open after the weekend and being no fool, I knew I would have easy access to all the fresh food the farmers brought in to restock the store. When market hours expanded to Tuesdays last year I had my schedule and did not change. It turns out there is plenty of yummies any day with the way various Producers deliver throughout the week.
Greeting each person when they enter is easy and it seems that most people respond to an upbeat attitude and smile. It is fun to identify the first time shoppers. They all tend to step into the shop and then stand still for a few seconds, looking around. That is my clue, if I am not busy helping at the cash register, to step up and ask, “Is this your first time here?” It is fun to find out how they heard about The Wild Ramp. Word of mouth from friends is the predominant way, but we are also seeing a lot of tourists travelling through the area who got off the Interstate for a break and came down to Heritage Station to the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
I proudly tell them that The Wild Ramp is most likely different from any other farmers’ market that they have ever visited. We are a local market first and foremost and I point out the map with its concentric circles of 50 miles and dots positioned where the Producers are located. It clearly is evident that most of the food available at The Wild Ramp comes from within 50 miles of Huntington. I point out, that is as the bird flies, not as the roads wiggle and we have to drive here. Usually gets a smile. Oh yes, our mountain roads are quickly recognized as one of the unique features of our state.
I explain how the fresh produce, our wonderful fruits and vegetables, are located at the front of the store and how the market changes its appearance as the season progresses. I warn them that in a few weeks, when the tomatoes and peppers and more summer produce start coming in, the tables will be piled high and the windows may break because of the amount of freshly picked ripe produce that will be available. Another smile at my attempt at humor.
Towards the back of the Market we have the prepared products: the pasta, the sauces, the crackers and more. Take your time and explore. You’ll notice coffee and chocolate too, obviously not grown in the Tri-State region but roasted here and wonderful.
The two white coolers have the milk (we need that van to bring more in each week…if you haven’t already “Liked” Dutch Miller Kia (https://www.facebook.com/dutch.kia?fref=ts) please take a few seconds to do that. He will be giving us a van in order to be able to go get larger quantities of milk and other foods from up in the Athens area. Anyway, the coolers have the milk, cheeses, eggs and sometimes more fragile produce that does better staying cool.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The freezers have our protein: chicken, beef, pork, lamb, goat (yes, the most eaten protein in the world so get over your hesitation and check it out), trout, bison, rabbit, and veggie burgers.
It’s all good. So it’s all so easy to talk about. Volunteering at the Market is easy and the time flies by. People are friendly. They’re happy to be there. It is great to be part of this and have a sense of belonging to a community that cares about something of value.