Reflecting on Community Market Reporting

When Taylor and I arrived at Nelson’s Farmers’ Market, we didn’t have an angle in mind. We were hoping one would present itself — and it did.

From the moment we stepped foot into the tent, we saw all the ways that COVID-19 had altered the usual relaxed atmosphere of a farmers’ market. The orange cones marking one-way foot traffic through the market, the masked faces, and the tangible uncertainty with which customers and vendors interacted with one another are not part of a typical farmers’ market experience.

We knew that if these new procedures affected us, they certainly must also have affected the vendors. We then decided that this would be the angle of our story — how COVID-19 has affected the vendors at Nelson’s Farmers’ Market.

Farmers’ markets are a very community-oriented affair. They bring together residents of an area who might not otherwise have a reason to interact with one another. Relationships are built and cultivated over fresh-cut flowers, homemade jams, and farm-fresh eggs on those Saturday mornings.

People care about how current events are affecting those they care about. COVID-19 has negatively impacted the lives of so many, and people are concerned with the well-being of others, in this case the friendly faces that sell them homegrown produce.

Finding the vendors who were less busy resulted in the most thorough and least rushed interviews. It was easier to get a very detailed, well-rounded story from a vendor who had been standing around for a while rather than from one we had to wait in line to talk with.

From this experience, we learned the benefit of taking a walk through the location before choosing a story angle. Taylor and I did this, and it served us well. We let the story present itself to us, rather than the other way around.

Working with a partner challenged us to integrate two different writing styles into one cohesive story. However, it benefitted us as we went through the interview process. One person could ask the questions and be fully engaged in the conversation while the other stood back and took notes.