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Roots, Tubers, and Pews

A woman browsing vegetables at a farmers market. Blog title reads, "Roots, Tubers, and Pews."

It’s Farmers’ Market Season!

You can now have it all! Roots, tubers, strawberries, celery, hanging baskets, cheese, beef, eggs, popcorn, candied nuts, crocheted doilies, hand-made soap, pickles, syrup, honey, pastries, and handmade catnip toys! And that’s just what I listed off the top of my head. There’s even more to explore!

Farmers’ markets are great.

The people who run them are usually interesting. They’re a consistent gathering place for people to meet. They offer programs and events that support the community. The vendors are personally on hand to share what they are providing. The quality of the food is always going to be better than anywhere else. They have free samples. They have foods and fruits that you wouldn’t otherwise consider. They have plants to help you start your garden.

Farmers’ markets are great.

Have you ever tried to buy toilet paper at a farmers’ market?

Probably not. The closest you can come is probably a head of lettuce, but please don’t.

So if I’m trying to get toilet paper, then I’ll find myself disappointed by the farmers’ market. If I’m looking to get stationery, I will probably be let down. If I’m looking for frozen pizzas, then I’ll go away empty-handed. You might be excused if you find yourself saying, “Farmers’ markets are not great. In fact, they stink.”

And any farmers’ market that advertises their toilet paper and stationery is not a farmers’ market I would trust.

But here’s the thing - farmers’ markets are great at what they do.

Wegmans is great too, and you can buy toilet paper. If you’re looking for Ziploc™ bags, I would strongly suggest you go there.

I think in this way, the church needs to look to the farmers’ market for inspiration.

What does the farmers’ market do? It gathers people together, providing them with things that they need, as well as things they didn’t know they needed. They offer surprising items, even if that item isn’t your personal cup of tea (I also like getting tea from farmers’ markets). People come with the anticipation of enjoying themselves in their community, and the people who run it are more focused on the quality of the output than the sheer quantity. People who are there are excited to be there and excited to see you there.

But sometimes we want to be Wegmans. The volume, the ubiquity, the profits, the budget.

But we aren’t Wegmans.

Just like a farmers’ market wouldn’t approve a vendor that sells Ziploc™, we need to understand that it would undermine our purpose. A church, like a farmers’ market, is founded on different values than a corporation. To try to emulate that culture would be inauthentic, paltry, and pointless. We won’t ever be able to provide everything to everyone. We will not have multiple locations and new properties. We can’t provide those things, and nor should we.

The Church needs to be a farmers’ market: local, welcoming, unique, community minded, and enthusiastic. I would rather be a tuber than a tube of toothpaste. I would rather be kale than an end of the year sale. I would rather be a pint of blueberries than a box of Boo-Berries™. I would much rather be the best version of myself than a failed attempt to be someone else.


Rev. Jeff Fox-Kline

Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church


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