My daddy was a farmer at heart. Even when he could no longer walk without assistance, he still won blue ribbons at the county fair. My daughter, too, has a way with plants just like her grandfather. Me? I never had a green thumb and over the years and due to certain circumstances, I grew disillusioned. Even my houseplants, I have joked, feel lucky when they get some water.

So I am patting myself on the back this summer because I was given a tomato plant and it now has little green tomatoes on it. I even have branched out now and am trying Swiss chard and snow peas, fingers crossed.

Of course, I always eat vegetables and fresh is best. And while our grocery stores are well stocked, there is nothing that beats the produce at the local farmers market. Socorro is fortunate to have a year-round farmers market, but I particularly enjoy summers on the plaza. There is a good selection of produce, plus these days there are folks selling breads, coffees and other goodies along with crafts. There is always music provided by someone local. The plaza is a hopping, busy place on Saturdays. Tuesday evenings from 5-7 p.m. have been added to the schedule as well.

Last Saturday, after seeing and catching up with people I hadn’t seen for a while, I sat and observed for a time and thought how nice it is to see activity in the center of town. I know I am not the only person who worries about the health of this community. Socorro is not the only small town struggling to find or keep an economic base. It can be discouraging to drive around and see all the empty buildings.

It was exciting to watch the new convenience store being built. Seems like the only new activity besides breweries –  there are now three, I believe, including the venerable Capitol Bar on the plaza – and the dispensaries. There are now at least three of those and two more opening soon, with rumors of even more coming, I guess. Now all that is fine if you drink or use cannabis. But it seems, what, lopsided, I guess I could say. Thank goodness, New Mexico Tech helped get the movie theatre open again.

The second point that struck me as I sat on the plaza, is that the farmers market is one of the few events that is still centered in the middle of town. The town plaza traditionally was the center not only of town but of most of the community’s events. Now, the mayor’s pet project of the rodeo and sports complex is the site of many of the community events. I’m sorry but it just doesn’t have the same feel.

But back to the plaza. It’s a wonderful resource and a great place to hang out, as those who do can tell you. Hurray for the farmers market. I hope we can encourage more community events to use that venue.

Gwen Roath, Guest Columnist