I spent time this week with Alison Normanton, the creator of Bucerias’ Forever Spring Farmer’s Market, discussing why it is truly unique among markets in the Bay of Banderas. Alison began the market out of difficult circumstances when her partner unexpectedly passed away, and she was left alone to run their organic farm, Rancho Limon. She needed a new place to sell her produce and knew a few other Mexican vendors who were interested in starting a handicraft/food market in Bucerias, similar to the one that was thriving in La Cruz.
In 2009, they held their first market day, with just nine vendors, on the inland side of the highway. Since then, the market has expanded and moved locations to accommodate the growing number of vendors and popularity among tourists, but has maintained its commitment to keeping products local and hand-crafted. Today the market is still made up of 90% Mexican entrepreneurs, who come from all over Mexico to peddle their unique crafts and culinary treats.
I spoke with several vendors who praised Alison’s vision and expounded on what a great experience it is to participate in her market. “Alison is so respectful and maintains a terrific community vibe that prioritizes the products of local entrepreneurs, keeping the commerce and profits here in our town,” said Caroline Caliz, who hand makes the world’s softest and most comfortable skirts and flowy Palazzo pants. I spied at least three vendors who work closely with Human Connections, whose popular tours support authentic, traditional craft makers in our town. And when I looked closer, I realized that many of the items for sale were also recycled in some way or another. That part is important to Alison too, who shared that for her, “the point of a market is to bring people together, with all of our talents, colors, and idiosyncrasies, and use those gifts to uplift our community.”
Unlike many of the tianguez in Mexico, where the majority of the goods are made outside of Mexico and re-sold, the Forever Spring Farmer’s Market is packed with gifted artisans who can tailor their wares to meet your specific desires. See something you like, but it’s not the right size or color? These capable crafters can create a custom piece in a matter of hours. I was especially taken with the whacky creatures and statues fabricated from scrap metal, and the young bag-makers turning can tabs into stylish accessories. As visitors meandered slowly around the large market square—bopping to the sounds of live music while taste-testing hummus, salsa, and artisanal cheeses—most of the vendors kept on crafting, giving us an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse of how they create. The finger-painter mixed magic before our eyes with his speed and precision; while the gentleman hand-rolling cigars captivated his audience with extensive knowledge of tobacco and the proper way to roll a quality cigar, “better than anything in Cuba!”
I could hear the pride in Alison’s words as she described each vendor and the distinctive role they play, not just in the Forever Spring Market but also in our town. “This is exactly what it means to say ‘what goes around, comes around,'” she beamed, taking in the entirety of her hard-earned vision. If something so beneficial to our community can grow out of a painful loss, I thought, maybe humanity isn’t so doomed after all.
The Forever Spring Market runs every Wednesday from early December through April, is open from 9 am to 1 pm, and is located on the South East corner of Lázaro Cárdenas and Javier Mina. For updates and questions, visit their Facebook page.