Walking back home from the Winterfeldt market today, I saw a shop advertising regional produce, Apfelgalerie, and had a chance to talk to the owner, Caty Schernus. She has a degree in cultural studies. For practical reasons (not, she emphasized, “passion”), she opened the shop, which sells produce from her parents’ farm and other producers within the region defined by the state in which Berlin is located, Brandenburg.
I asked her how she communicates the idea of regional food. “By standing here every day explaining to them over and over why there are no apples right now. People in the city have no idea what’s in season. They expect to have everything all year.”
Then I asked her what she says about the price “I don’t have to, because usually we are cheaper than the discounters, because there’s no middleman.”
I’m very awkward about demanding that everyone speak English to me, and that usually renders me incoherent at the beginning of a conversation. When they are insecure about their English (which is usually fantastic but they don’t believe it), it’s easy to misread one another. I started the conversation with Caty asking about other regional resources and she was a bit wide-eyed. I initially interpreted this as “the city is full of them, where am I supposed to start?” But then it became clear that she felt her type of shop is rare. “The discounters are everywhere.”
“Even at the Winterfeldt market, most of the vendors are resellers.” (I noticed this). “But there are a few real ones” I said. “Yes, but you have to look hard for them.” I mentioned that in California the law for the farmers markets is written so that the farmers can make rules about selling only their own produce. “But it’s very hard for the farmers, who already have a lot of work, to also manage the selling.” She is clearly speaking from the experience of her own family.
She mentioned a shop nearby which sells greek olive oil from the proprietor’s father’s farm, a chocolate shop, and a flour shop, which I will investigate. Fortunately, Caty invited me to come back (to make a more thorough interview).