By their fruits you will know them. — Matthew 7:16

Last night I received Ken Katz’s weekly Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum email, which led off with the horrible news, forwarded from Helen and Peggy of Kassenhoff Growers, of Laura Trent’s suicide.

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Rita and I shop at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market every week. We have our favorite vendors, and it’s not just about the quality of their produce. We see them engaging with their customers, talking up their produce with great wisdom and enthusiasm, and radiating good health. It’s a major aspect of our pleasure in being part of this market economy: bypassing factory farms, dealing directly with the people who plant and tend and harvest, making that good human connection at the heart of what really matters in this life. It’s the embodiment of that bumper-sticker slogan, “Think globally, act locally.” We are healthier for this, and so is the world.

We didn’t know Laura’s name, but we knew her smile and we loved her produce. From our dealings with her, I never would have suspected she was depressed. Just a few nights ago we enjoyed a baked squash from Tip Top Farms — a kabocha, if I’ve googled correctly. My wife, a former food-collective member and the produce buyer in the family, went away for the weekend and left me with a detailed shopping list that mentioned Tip Top by name.

There was an altar in the Tip Top space at the Market today. Below the easel with the picture and words you see here was a shelf with candles, flowers, loving words from Laura’s friends and colleagues, and a stone engraved with the word BELOVED.

This world being the multifarious wonder that it is, there was celebration today at the Market along with tragedy. Today’s Oakland Tribune features a fine article about Kassenhoff Growers, written by Laura Casey and with photos (not included in the online version) by Nick Lammers. Manager Jim Fenton got married last week; how sad that he returned from his honeymoon to learn that one of his first organic vendors had left us.
“We worked together for nine years,” he told me today. “Laura was a cornerstone of the market.”

Loss is a part of life; we all know that. As we get older, we lose friends and loved ones and heroes and neighbors. It’s hard, always painful. Suicide is harder. We can’t know what was going on in Laura’s heart; all we can do is mourn, and remember.

I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear
Playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing
I can’t help listening
Jackson Browne