It’s only dirt!

But maybe it’s pay dirt.

That’s what the famous 1849 California Gold Rush miners called that beautiful, glimmering gold dust they panned from a thousand crystal streams running down out of the Rocky Mountains.

Gold dust, or any other old pile of nuggets they dug up, would pay a miner $20.60 for every single ounce, back then. In today’s money that was like picking up more than $635 for each ounce, more than $10,000 a pound! That was some dirt!

But there are a few other kinds of valuable dirt, too. Like the dirt that can be almost as beautiful as gold when you see it on the happy, smiling face of a playing child. Or the dirt that makes your car look so pretty… when you wash it all off. OK, maybe that last one is a stretch, but you get my point. Dirt can be an OK thing.

Especially the dirt under your fingernails. Somebody once told me, “Play in the dirt. Life is too short to always have clean fingernails.”

So maybe dirt has a few more virtues we don’t think about every day.

Consider that everything you eat, in one way or another, came to you up through the dirt. Some seeds grow out of the dirt to become wheat for your bread. Corn kernels sprout up from the soil and grow into good things like tortillas and popcorn and even corn whiskey moonshine, if you consider that food. Even the ever-popular Brussels sprouts and broccoli are dirt-bred delicacies. They go well with your grain-fed beef.

Get it? Dirt is cool.

This week the Jamestown Gaztte celebrates the people who love good dirt probably more than anybody else. Their dirt has to be dark and rich, plowed in spring and well watered in the summer…and lovingly tended all year long. They are called farmers.

So please visit your farmers market as often as you can. You will be amazed at what you learn and even more by what you can buy there. There are three words to remember when you do that:

a. Fresh
b. Local
c. Un-monkeyed with

Farmers market produce is usually picked the same day you buy it, and almost always not far away. No spoilage, no long-term storage and no colors or waxes or chemical sprays were added to make them as durable as coconuts to help them tolerate long trips from 1,000 miles away and long, long days on supermarket shelves.

It’s just fresh, clean and natural. And so are the people who grew it for you, as you’ll discover when you meet them at their farmers markets. They are proud of their work and delighted to offer its value directly to the people who purchase their wares. A farmers market is more than just another place to buy things. It offers a culture and a heritage worth knowing.
A farmers market is a great place to take your children, too. There they might meet a person for whom an important truth is merely their everyday wisdom:

“As a farmer you learn quick:
‘You don’t get anything that you don’t work hard for.’”

“Life is a garden,” Joe Dirt said. “Dig it.”

And, of course, please enjoy the read in your Jamestown Gazette.

Walt Pickut