Finding purpose in the unexpected, Farm 12 Holiday Market

Finding purpose in the unexpected, Farm 12 Holiday Market

On November 26, I got to participate in Farm 12’s holiday market. As a guest, I had previously attended an event at Farm 12 and fell in love with the wonderful energy and beautiful design and architecture. Prior to applying for their holiday market, I didn’t realize that there is so, so much more to Farm 12 than just a beautiful venue.

Profits generated by Farm 12 help fund Step-By-Step whose mission is to support mothers on their journey to motherhood. They do this by providing, “mental health support groups, crisis and homelessness prevention services, job training, educational scholarships, and peer mentorship, while also fulfilling tangible needs such as car seats, strollers, and food.” This nonprofit and its mission are in line with what I try to do on a much smaller scale as an artist and writer so the idea of participating in their market was a dream.

Even though, it initially felt right to be part of their Farm 12 market, it was the largest market I had ever participated in so I became more nervous the closer we got to November 26. Regardless of my fears, I knew I needed to do this market.

The morning of the event was hectic, but I pulled it off just in time for the even to begin. After getting my booth set up, the event became really busy, really quickly. Almost uncomfortably busy. Traffic was great, but my sales were minimal at first. As time when on, my fears and insecurities started getting louder in my head. I began wondering, “what am I doing here?” I questioned if this was a good idea, it I had wasted money on inventory but carried on in hopes that I would sell enough to feel it was worthwhile.

As I greeted shoppers, I tried to make connections and, if it felt right, I would share my story. I had several great, but short chats. I was about halfway through the event and had only made a handful of small sales. I was beginning to really feel like I had made a mistake in being part of this market, but then a women walked into my booth. She was admiring a framed print of my painting titled, “Coco.” It is a colorful hummingbird with a mustard gold background. I painted it during 2020 when I had felt severe isolation and yearned for symbols of hope. The woman continued to stare at it when I decided to spark up a conversation.

"That’s 'Coco,'" I told her.

“I love it,” she said. I responded with, “well, I also have an unframed print of that piece if you aren’t interested in the framed one.”

“Oh no, no, no, no,” she quickly interrupted me. She went on to tell me how her partner would be upset if she got another hummingbird. We laughed and she started to open up, “my mother died last year.” It was as if she had something brewing insider her that she simply needed to share with someone. I had the time and I had the open heart. She told me that, when her mother was alive, she had two hummingbirds that would visit her. She chuckled when she told me their names. The woman wasn’t really emotional while telling me about her mom. I just listened. While our conversation progressed, I noticed a few other adults waiting for her right-out side of my booth. They weren’t part of our conversation, but I could tell they were with her. I thanked her for sharing her story with me and suddenly became compelled to do something to show her my gratitude.

“Can I give you something?” I asked her. She reluctantly said, “yes…?” I walked over and grabbed a small print of, “Coco.” I then handed it to her saying, “I want you to have this.” Her eyes were instantly overcome with emotion and she was completely speechless. She couldn’t get a word out. I tried my best to hold back my own tears and just smiled. She walked over to her friend, still speechless and showed her the hummingbird print in her hand. Her friend took one look at her watery eyes and jokingly scolded her saying, “oh no, we are not doing that here.”

They went onto have a moment over what had just happened. Never did I expect such a reaction from a little piece of paper.. While they were talking, one of them men she was with looked towards me making very deliberate eye contact. Then said, “thank you, thank you.” A minute or so later, he did it again and said “thank you.” 

As they wandered off, I realized that making a certain number of sales as a vendor at Farm 12’s holiday market was not why I was there that day. Instead, it was clear to me that I was there to help give a message to that women from someone or thing far greater than her or I...or a little print on a piece of paper. 


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