I’ve been feeling kinda down lately. Everywhere I look there is bad news…unspeakable tragedies across the globe (some that directly touched people I know), vicious political campaigns, greedy corporations, waste and negativity. Not much to celebrate these days. (OK, hang on… you know this will turn itself around in a minute–sort of a “market-makeover.”)

Last Saturday, I was speaking to John Accornero, a mostly organic farmer and bee keeper who sells honey at the Land of Goshen Community Market, and I was ON. A. ROLL. Actually, I was probably speaking AT John not to him, going on and on about everything from Monsanto’s complete disregard for the environment and small, independent farmers to the evils of terrorism and the hopelessness of Climate Change.

John listened patiently (He’s very patient.), slightly smiling in a sympathetic way. When I came up for air, John found a break in my sea of despair and tossed out a life raft: “I think people are basically good and America is basically a good country,” he said. “People, overall, want to do the right thing. Sure there are a few bad apples and some bad decisions are made, but, really, at the heart of things, people in America want to be good and are good.”

John Accornero

John Accornero, farmer and bee keeper. His little friend needs a name, so make a bee-line to his stand, buy some incredible honey and make a suggestion.

With that, John pulled me ashore. Did he say anything truly profound? No. Something I’d never heard before? Not really. It’s just that he said it not as a way to win a vote or sell a jar of honey (even though I did buy one) or prove anybody wrong. He said it because he believes it. He made me believe it, too. He’s the bee’s knees!

Then, as I looked around the market, I began to see  the good that John was talking about, the magic of homegrown passion, generosity and pride—beginning with John and his friendly little bee. How can you deny the joy of John’s energy, his silky sweet honey and his fuzzy little friend? He made me smile, forget my troubles and, in a very real way, took me from the depths of anxiety to the height of happiness and calm (no Prozac required!).

Lisa Brinker demonstrates Sun PrintingMy friend Lisa Brinker of Wildcreek Gardens was doing a demo just across the way on Sun Printing, a process she uses to turn her flowers and herbs (and even some weeds) into amazing works of wearable art. A few minutes with Lisa, her breathtaking colors and the scent of flowers everywhere and I was well on my way to a very good day. Lisa has been at the market as long as I’ve been shopping there. Her scarves, little hand-sewn pouches, bouquets and hand-painted glassware are so special, always one-of-a-kind and made (like John’s honey) from the sweetness of her heart. When I wear one of Lisa’s scarves, I feel her positive energy all day long.

I found “ugly” veggies at Daydream Farms’ stand, which I was able to turn into some fun shapes for the dinner table. Don’t let the conventional world steer you away from funky looking fruits and vegetables. Your kids will love a flower in their veggie omelet or a double cucumber-inspired, edible smiley face. And then there’s that peach. I swear (and I asked to make sure) nothing at all was done to enhance the tweety-bird quality of that little peach. She was on display for all the Market Sprouts—kids who attend an educational program sponsored by the Market that encourages healthy eating, real-food appreciation, artistic creativity and a basic good time.

graphic with double cucumber and double squash

What some call ugly vegetables and grocery stores reject are perfectly edible and fun to use.

On Sunday, my husband Don and I took part in the Know Your Grower Day tours. We started at The Family Garden,

Debbie Mills with Nora on pony

Here’s my new friend Nora riding Squirt under the careful guidance of Debbie Mills.

visiting with Jackie Mills and her daughter Debbie. I tried to retrieve an egg from under a hen, but I was not fast enough—got a little peck on the hand. Farming is not easy. Tasted blackberries right off the vine—YUM and had a much-appreciated glass of fresh lemonade on that really hot day. We also met Nora and her parents, who were visiting the farm, too.

We moved on to the Ernst Family Farm, where owner David gave us a “How to Raise Cattle 101” class. Very impressive. Really, the impressive part was David’s passion, as he told us about the farm, which has been in his family for many years. He explained the way his cattle move through the year—mainly at their own pace—and how they live their lives from birth to harvest. David and his wife Whitney seem to know their animals very well. They make sure the cattle live happy and healthy lives, eating mostly from the pasture and spending their time outside on quiet hillsides with plenty of room to roam. Whitney also has some pretty magical chairs with a matching table—I was dying to take them home, and she wanted to sell! However, my driver said “no-go.” Oh well, the photo is cool.

David, Whitney, Aynslie and August Ernst

David, Whitney, Aynslie and August Ernst, delightful young farm family, a touch of hope for the future.

painted chair

Whitney Ernst is an incredibly creative person. LOVED these chairs. She’s selling if you are interested!

So I guess the point of this post (that started out so far below the “happy meter” it wouldn’t have registered) is gratitude. Sure there’s plenty to complain about, but complaining won’t change things. Only positive vision turned into action can make change. Of course, there is reason for worry in this world, but “worry is just praying for what you don’t want” (a line I love from meditation guru Bill Harris). I think John has the right idea—if we focus on what is good in people we will create more good in the world, sort of like spreading honey on a golden homemade biscuit. Guaranteed to bring on smiles.

So this Independence Day, I’m going to try really hard to think about all the magic in my life—the friends, good food, natural beauty, positive energy and love all around me. How about you? What are you celebrating this 4th of July?

And next week, I’ll let you know how my Red, White and Blue-berry celebration turned out. Stay tuned.