A few years ago I decided to try out the farmers market in Kalamazoo. I’d only been to a farmers market a couple of times in my life and honestly I wasn’t sure how the whole thing worked. Would they take my check, could I use a credit card, should I just have cash? My first trip was the day the market opened, the first Saturday in May. I weaved along the side streets and through a neighborhood to find the Bank Street Farmers Market nestled in a downtown neighborhood.

I wandered the aisles watching others, who clearly knew how this worked, buying their items and chatting with the growers. Many had colorful baskets with handles that held their purchases. I watched as some paid with cash and others with checks. The smell of hot coffee and grilled sausages lay in the cool morning air and there was an excited energy I could feel as I soaked up the scene and began thinking about how I would enter into this world for myself.

farmer's market

That first Saturday I carefully purchased some lettuce and green beans along with asparagus. As I was walking towards my car I saw the booth filled with wild flowers and stopped for a bunch of those as well.

I returned each week that summer, bringing one of my girls or my friend Bethany with me. I grew braver in my purchases, veggies I’d never prepared before, heirloom tomatoes and fresh pizza crusts. As we walked the market we would talk about what we could make together and planned out times to cook during the week. I found my “favorite” growers and enjoyed seeing them each week. I learned a bit about the surrounding area and felt more connected to my community. Most of all it was fun and inspired creativity in me that felt fresh and new.

heirloom tomatoes

Last summer my daughter and I had many conversations about intentional living, some prompted from our reading of A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I realized that my choice to shop at my local farmers market was a way I could support the economy right here in Kalamazoo. That may sound surprising to you that I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s true.

Katy and I began talking about all the markets we had been to here and abroad and realized that the farmers market or covered market is something that connects us globally. Women all over the world have local markets where they can choose to shop. It is a place where we can connect more to one another, by sharing our market stories via instagram at (redtent_market) or here on Red Tent Living.

This month I traveled to Austria and England for business and made my way to the covered markets in Vienna and Oxford. I wandered the aisles and I listened to the conversations, between local residents and the sellers, bargaining over meat and vegetables. I smiled at women with their baskets filled stopping for a cappuccino or glass of wine with a friend, sharing stories and recipes. I thought about my own trips to my market with my friend each Saturday.

I found as I walked the streets and rode on public transit in the cities we visited that I felt more present, connected and invested in what I was seeing, hearing and experiencing.

My world has changed in the past few years as I have taken intentional steps towards more wholehearted living. I’ve realized that making a difference isn’t as hard as I tended to think it was; I can do things each day to invest more into the community where I am living. I can buy local food, go to the local coffee shop, take food to the food pantry in the winter and volunteer for a local non-profit. If you aren’t doing any of those things yet you can do them too! I am confident you will love what will be grown inside of your heart and soul.

When you go to your farmers market I highly recommend buying fresh basil, red onions, asparagus, peppers and lots of heirloom tomatoes. These are the necessary ingredients for an amazing pizza that has become a staple item for summer at our house.

Farmers Market Pizza

Pizza Crust – we like to buy ours at the market or you can find it at your local grocery store. we like pre-cooked crust.
Red and Yellow Peppers – diced or cut in strips (your choice)
Red Onion – sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Heirloom tomatoes
Provolone Cheese or Mozzarella or Goat Cheese – we have used each of these.
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

-Brush the pizza dough with olive oil

-If you are using provolone cheese you will lay it down first and pile your ingredients on top. If you are using shredded mozzarella or goat cheese it goes on last

-Layer your ingredients

-Top with cheese

-Salt and pepper to taste

You can add grilled chicken or chicken sausage to your pizza as well.

The key here is enjoying it–pick things you like, be creative and see what happens.

Cook for 20 minutes or so, watching for the cheese to begin to melt and bubble.

margarita pizza


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Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  Married for 26 years, she is mother to five kids.  After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.  Founder of Seized by Hope Ministries, she writes here.
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