getting the most out of the farmers’ market

August 23, 2010

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?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

crunchy granola gal August 23, 2010 at 8:30 am

wow, these pictures are fantastic! i LOVE chatting it up with the guys and girls at the farmer’s market who are either farmers themselves or just manning (womaning?) the farm stand. everyone is usually very kind, informative, and pretty crunchy, too :) they also have such neat personal stories about their produce or specialty products, and i love that. it’s like learning all about an (edible) family history!

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Madeline - Greens and Jeans August 23, 2010 at 8:45 am

For some reason, I love how everyone brings their dogs with them! It just adds to the casual Saturday morning vibe I think!

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Erica August 23, 2010 at 10:32 am

Great tips and beautiful pictures. Couldn’t agree more with getting there early and spreading the love. Spreading the love is good in terms of spreading $$ out to the various farmers, as well as seeing which stands have the best produce!

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Kacy August 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I haven’t been to a farmer’s market yet this year because there aren’t any close. It makes me sad. This makes me want to go to one so badly though! Great tips!

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Jasmine @ Eat Move Write August 24, 2010 at 10:20 pm

These pictures are so beautiful! I like the point about “spreading the love.” I tend to forget to walk around and check out all the other deals. It’s a good tip. :)

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Holly August 25, 2010 at 8:55 am

FABULOUS TIPS! i especially like to practice the one of buying from as many vendors i can – i like to spread the farmer’s market love to as many local peeps as i can. annndddd…going early is the only option for me. too many crowds = crabby holly.

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Jessica Michel August 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I am with you..I love the hub of unique people that show up! I also just love the fresh earth smell and the various colors of the produce. Thanks for sharing :)

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Kori September 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Beautiful photos (on all your posts, but I especially love these)! I am a huge farmers’ market lover too and look forward to going each Saturday morning. Between eating breakfast and filling my bags with fresh foods for the week, I always come home smiling ;)

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