At seven o’clock on Saturday morning, the Bloomington Farmers Market is a quiet place. Some trucks are pulling up, some of the growers talk to each other, and some birds chirp in the trees, but mostly, everyone is working. There are virtually no customers. Many vendors are still setting up tents or arranging produce. The market isn’t supposed to open until eight, but there are some early risers beating the crowds. The farmers are happy to accommodate them.
Dan McCullough, an amiable man with a short grey beard, takes a break from unloading his truck of corn and sweet potatoes to sell some corn to a woman at his stand, even though it isn’t nearly time to “open” yet. I ask Dan if people always came to his stand this early. He tells me that they do, but it doesn’t matter. As long as he’s here – which can be as early as 5:30 – and he has corn – which can sell out as early as 9:30 – and there’re people who want to buy it, he’ll sell it to them. Of all of those things, he said it’s the supply of corn that has been the issue this year. “It’s been a tough year to get enough,” he tells me.
Of course, Dan is talking about the drought. As I walk around the market, watching dawn break over downtown Bloomington and listening to the local growers chat and mingle, “drought” is a word that I hear from several directions. You wouldn’t guess at any trouble, though. Everyone seems happy and food is abundant. It better be. At 7:45, Dan has a line already.