I remember the trains first thing in the morning,
all horns blaring. Summers spent under the bridge
in the heat and dust, the early sun the color of melon,
the rain and wind, grabbing tent legs and bills
from the moneybox. On cold days I remember dancing
to stay warm, and popsicles on hot days to cool our tongues.
--an excerpt from a community poem written by
Haymaker Farmers’ Market vendors and community members
This past summer, the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University created Market Stanzas (haymaker.marketstanzas.com), a community arts project in partnership with the Haymaker Farmers’ Market in celebration of their thirtieth anniversary. Funded by the Kent Rotary Foundation, MarketStanzas placed Kent State University undergraduate students at the market throughout the summer to collect community stories, memories, and other creative writing about the Haymaker Farmers’ Market. Each visitor’s contribution was then uploaded to a growing community poem.
Wick intern Angelina Colasante, who spearheaded the student effort to collect the Market Stanzas, expressed feeling proud to be part of the project. She recalls, “It was beautiful seeing such a strong, loving, and nurturing sense of community. People of all ages coming together to share not only an experience, but their livelihoods.”
Fellow Wick intern, Alana Lazarides remembers how powerful it was “to see how much the market meant to everyone and how much it inspired a sense of community. I loved going every week, seeing familiar faces, and getting to hear everyone's voices and perspectives through their stories and their writing.”
Haymaker Farmers’ Market was founded in 1992 by a determined group of community members who wanted access to local food in our beloved city of Kent. What started as a small handful of vendors under the Haymaker overpass during the summer months has grown to a vibrant, year-round, producer-only market with upwards of fifty vendors. Over the last thirty years, Haymaker has helped foster equitable access to healthy, local food and meaningful relationships between consumers and farmers, makers, and bakers.
Not only did the Market Stanzas project collect memories from the last thirty years of the Haymaker Farmers’ Market, but it also asked visitors and vendors to consider the impact community markets have on the health and wellness of the communities they nourish.
A participant in the project named Debbie recalled, “I wonder if anyone will be growing their own food in years to come? The supermarket is so convenient, land is so expensive, the work takes so much time. Then I meet a young couple, excited to have just moved here, eager to find out about their soil so they can start their own gardens and feed their family. Then I know we're going to be okay.”
“No church has ever made my bells ring the way Saturdays at the markets have,” wrote Kelly H. “Chatting here is a momentary dive into reverence with the earth beneath our feet and the land that holds our roots for miles in all directions. Saturdays taste like community and the sharp tang of tomatoes, the sweet drip of peach juice running down my arm over the kitchen sink at home, my heart ringing with love and gratitude for the gift of my place on this earth in this town, among these people, enjoying these hours.”
The Market Stanzas project will continue during the Haymaker Holiday Markets, starting December 3 at the United Methodist Church of Kent. Not only will visitors be able to contribute lines to the Market Stanzas community poem, but they will also be able to purchase locally designed cards featuring stanzas from the summer markets, the proceeds of which will go toward sustaining the Haymaker Farmers' Market, as well as the design and installation of a mural under the Haymaker Parkway Bridge in the summer of 2023.