Your local farmer’s market can be a great spot to buy inexpensive and fresh produce, support your local farmers, and even try some tasty pre-made foods or purchase quirky handmade items. With these tips, you can be sure you get the most out of your visit and walk away with an armful of delicious foods!
5 Tips for Shopping Your Local Farmer’s Market
Bring cash. Some vendors accept debit cards, credit cards, and checks; you will likely run into many vendors that are cash only. The best way to ensure you are able to purchase everything you need (and stick within a budget!) is by bringing cash with you. If you are trying not to overspend but still want to be able to treat yourself to a beautiful handmade necklace that may catch your eye at the market, or if a vendor is offering a great deal on berries at a larger quantity and you’d like to be able to grab some for your friends, set aside some extra cash in addition to your produce funds
Select your time wisely. If you want to freshest, healthiest produce and don’t want to risk missing out on items that sell out before you arrive, your best bet is to arrive as soon as the market opens. On the other hand, if you’d like to scope out some deals and discounts, you might want to consider showing up about an hour before the market is due to close. The vendors will be more likely to bargain since they are seeking to get rid of their items so they don’t have to haul them back home.
Buy in season. Your farmer’s market won’t have the same selection that your grocery store has since grocery stores have produce shipped to them from all over the world, but your farmer’s market will have the best tasting in-season organic foods! And knowing which fruits and vegetables are in season can help you grab the freshest produce and the best deals. Berries, are plentiful in May while corn tends to be sold more in August. Peaches and apples, on the other hand, you’ll see more of in September. Herbs can be easier to buy since they stay in season longer. Rosemary, for instance, is in season in both summer and fall (or year round in temperate climates.) For a full list of when fruits and vegetables are in season, visit the US Department of Agriculture’s “What’s in Season?” guide.
Make a loop around the market before buying anything. You want to avoid buying the first few things you see because another vendor down the line may wind up having better deals on that same item, or worse, you’ll spend all your money and then come across something you wish you has some cash for! To avoid these pitfalls, walk a loop around the entire farmer’s market before purchasing anything and take mental notes of which booths you want to return to. After you’ve seen everything the vendors have to offer, you can make better purchasing decisions and head straight home with your goods, without having to lug them around to continue browsing the market.
Try new things! Farmer’s markets often have samples of their homemade food items, and it’s worth trying as many as you can. You never know if you might wind up falling in love with a local farmer’s sweet horseradish pickles, or if the jalapeno jam will become the next staple item on your breakfast table. If you get thirsty, try a cup of the ice cold lavender lemonade or the locally grown coffee to add some pep in your step for the rest of your farmer market adventure.
Farmer’s markets can be a great experience and an opportunity to support your local agriculture. In no time, heading to your local grocery store will have you missing your farmer’s market!