Promoting the Farmers’ Market and living one’s values

Ken Katz met Megan Hertzler at the Farmers’ Market in February when he was promoting the Art Walk. She told him that she has Long-COVID and often stays inside, but saves her energy to ensure she can get to the market each Saturday to shop and take photographs. Madhavi tells her story. 

By Madhavi Athanikar

At a time when many of us shop for goods and products online or in large chain retail establishments and buy our groceries from sterile, fluorescent-lit, industrial-type spaces, Megan Hertzler is a champion of person-to-person connection and small artisans and food growers. Since 2015, she has been promoting vendors at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market by highlighting the harvests from her favorite stalls on her Instagram page, which has grown to have an international following.

Megan Hertzler

As a native southerner who migrated to Minnesota, she discovered the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market when she first moved to Oakland nine years ago.  The market connected her to California’s climate and her new community. Accustomed to drastic temperature changes in Minnesota’s winters and summers, she found herself tuning in to the softer and subtler seasonal changes of California as goods and produce became available during different months of the year. Peas and asparagus meant springtime and citrus and stone fruit signaled that fall was around the corner.

To Megan, an attorney who now lives in Adams Point, the farmers’ market is the answer to some of the stresses of modern living, a way to engage in a more soulful relationship with our food and a resource for creating a rich and opulent life. As a Long-COVID sufferer, the farmer’s market is also a sweet relief from the challenges of her illness, a place where normalcy and joy come to play.

When asked how she became involved in promoting the market, Megan replied “we need to support those people who love the earth.” She sees the work of farming as an art form. “It is as difficult as sculpting or painting,” she says.

 “It’s the planning, the thought, the patience, and the outlay of energy” that goes into it, she says.  That perfect head of butter lettuce that looks like a rose, sits there as the net result of that work and effort.” Ranunculus, freesias, cabbages, citrus, tomatoes, plums, and root vegetables arranged in rustic displays in small stalls like paintings in a museum inspire her to photograph the offerings and share them with others. The sensuality of fruit and flowers are captured through the eye of the artist in each frame.

That same attention to beauty extends to Megan’s creativity around turning those raw findings from the market into something uniquely her own. Jars of homemade jams, pickles, sauerkraut, liqueurs, and cordials line pantry selves in a picturesque kitchen lab. It’s a feast of eye candy everywhere you look. And the magic of fermentation fills the air. 

One particular creation Megan is especially proud of is her black walnut Nocino liqueur. And of course, there’s a story behind this concoction: Because green walnuts are required for this recipe and they are not usually readily available, she had to go straight to one of her personal contacts, Victor from J.J. Ramos’ farm. It was an unusual request (most people do not have a use for immature walnuts) but he graciously accommodated and reluctantly came up with a price.

Megan shares this story as an example of the human touch that is missing from our day-to-day interactions. She is living her values, which include authentic connection to others, food as a celebration of love and the artistry of nature’s way. The farmers’ market is a place where all of these things are on full display.

Go to Instagram to see more of Megan’s farmers’ market photos.

By Madhavi athanikar

Headshot: Madhavi Athikanar

Madhavi Athanikar has lived in the Grand Lake neighborhood for three years and recently left her job in fashion and retail management to look for her next adventure.



One response to “Promoting the Farmers’ Market and living one’s values”

  1. Jerry Barclay Avatar
    Jerry Barclay

    What a terrific story! Thank you.

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