In an effort to continue my studies in the relationship of farmers markets and community, I have decided that I want to focus on the idea of our local farmers’ markets being agents in the creation of “place-making.”
Many of you are probably familiar with the book “The Great Good Place” by Ray Oldenburg, but for those of you that are not familiar, a brief summary is in order. Ray Oldenburg discusses challenges in the lack of community we experience here in the United States, and describes how many of us are searching for “third places,” …communities where we can gather outside of our first place (home) and second place (work).
In Ray Oldenburg’s book, he identifies these “third places” as our local cafe’s, bookstores, bistros, pubs, and “the like,” but I believe our farmers markets can also be incorporated as “great, good, places.”
It is my belief that our local markets are now emerging as wonderful “third places” where we can not only shop for fresh and local goods, but also participate in culture and dialogue with community. In an effort to demonstrate this idea, I will be studying several local markets across the city here in Rochester, NY
Above: People stroll the farmers market at Washington Square Park in Rochester, NY
Do our local farmers’ markets meet Ray Oldenburg’s qualifications for a third place?
In Chapter 2, The Character of Third Places in “The Great Good Place” Oldenburg describes a third place as having the following 8 attributes (I have paraphrased the definition for each subcategory):
- On Neutral Ground – Can all feel welcome and comfortable?
- The Third Place Is a Leveler – Are differences between people eliminated and are all made equal?
- Conversation Is the Main Activity – Is there engaging dialogue that is sustaining the third place? Is there dynamic association with one another?
- Accessibility and Accommodation – Can one frequent the third place anytime and find assurance in acquaintance? Does a community life exist there?
- The Regulars – Are the right people there to make the place feel alive? Do the regulars give the third place its character?
- A Low Profile – Is the third place typically plain or unimposing? Is it an expected part of life that can be perceived as ordinary or routine?
- The Mood is Playful – Do joy and acceptance reign over anxiety and alienation? Does the third place engagement and entertainment form association?
- A Home Away from Home – Does the third place offer a congenial environment? Does it root us in a way that we can find belonging? Does it give us the feeling of being at ease or the “freedom to be?”
It is my belief that these attributes strongly relate to the local markets that I have participated in as a vendor or as a customer. As we look at the various markets across the city of Rochester, I believe these attributes will become clear as these markets maintain similarity as “third places,” and yet the relationships within each of these markets remain dynamically different from one another.
I look forward to introducing you to these markets through both the lens of being a vendor with Joe Bean Coffee Roasters and understanding the viewpoint from the agricultural community, and being a market participant who shops for my food and goods, and meets the providers and farmers who enable these markets to exist.
If you are interested in purchasing The Great Good Place it is available for purchase by clicking below.