Going to the Farmers’ Market on a weekend morning is one of the most satisfying summer activities in my opinion. I love walking the mile down there from my house, empty bag on my arm.
I get a huge kick of of the hustle and bustle of people strolling with their dogs, children and partners, dragging their heels and soaking up the sights and smells and sounds.
I love the bright herbs and colourful flowers; I love the food stands and their unique fare; I adore soaking up the live music and getting coffee from a stand; I feel excited and proud talking to the local farmers; and I get the biggest thrill from the surprise of what I might find and what it might later become.
However, if you’re not a seasoned goer, navigating the market and all it has to offer can be overwhelming. That hustle and bustle can become hectic and stressful if you aren’t sure of your footing, etiquette or where to even start.
Here are my top tips on how to get the most out of your visit.
1. First, you need to find a market! Check out Local Harvest for listings of farmers’ markets across the nation.
2. Next, research your market of choice! Look on their Web site if they have one and find out what time they open and what farmers will be present.
3. Many markets now have produce planners with lists of all the goods they expect to have that week so you can plan what you might look out for.
4. Be open minded. Whilst it’s nice to reference that produce planner, the farmers’ market experience is all about spontaneity. See what’s there and what looks good when you arrive and go with it!
5. Set a budget. If you tend to splurge it can be easy to get into the flow a little too much. Make budgeting easy by taking cash (vendors will appreciate small bills). Take a certain amount and do not go over it!
6. Spread the love. Try not to buy too much from one vendor but instead wander the market before you make any purchases so that you have a good sense of what’s available, who’s selling it and who has the most competitive prices. Spreading your spending around the different local farmers not only means that your dollar goes to different farmers but also that you get to meet and chat to all those different farmers too.
7. Get there early! If you get to the market bright and early then you’ll have the pick of the crop, literally! The ripest, juiciest, freshest produce will go first so get in there quick.
8. Or….go late. If you want to pick up the bargains then going in the last hour or half hour will probably win you some super awesome discounts. If you’re budget savvy then this is a top tip for you!
9. Take your own bags. We can’t all afford specialty farmers’ market backpacks ($120?!) but bringing your own reusable bags reduces waste and vendors will thank you. Plus, it’s another great way to gauge just how much you are buying. Did you really need that pound of potatoes?
10. Meet, mingle, make friends! Talk to the farmers and people selling you produce. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – this is what the farmers’ market is all about; not just knowing where your food has come from but exactly how it got there! Although, do note that if a vendor is super busy then engaging them in a lot of chat may be draining time they could be spending making another sale. Be conscience and respectful of the fact that this is their livelihood! But most of all smile, say thank you and have fun.
If you visit a farmers’ market, what do you enjoy most about the experience?