The season is upon us for fresh fruits and veggies and with all of that delicious produce comes farmer's markets. These outdoor, open-air markets are one of the best ways to spend a summer market, especially if you're in the mood for cooking up something new. A day trip to a farmer's market is the perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday - a little scenery, a little shopping, and a lot of yums.
For both first-timers and experienced farmer's market pros, navigating these sometimes overwhelming booths full of options can be a bit daunting initially. There are so many options for fresh produce and many times, other shops will be showcasing their homemade products or services. With so many people moving around one area, it's easy enough to feel rushed or in the way, especially for customers who have come with a "wing it" mindset.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prepare for anything at the local farmer's market. From preparing a list of target items beforehand to carrying exact change, each small effort counts towards a great outdoor experience. You never know what you'll find at a market, so why not be prepared for anything?
A Little Research Ahead Of Time Goes Quite A Long Way
It's always helpful to know what's in season before heading out in search of specific produce at a farmer's market. It can save hassle and time to know which summer veggies will be prevalent and which fruits will be perfectly ripe, especially when you have recipes in mind. This will also help to make for a smoother search since it's likely that many farms will be showcasing the same types of produce that are in season.
For those seeking plants, it also helps to know what will be in season, so that way you're not setting out on a fruitless (no pun intended) journey. Checking out a seasonal produce chart will help to know what you're looking for and what you can find, and might even inspire you to try some new things.
Bring Reusable Bags And Small Bills
Everyone is doing their best to rid the world of plastic, right? Especially when shopping at the farmer's market, it's important to BYOB - Bring Your Own Bag! While they often will try to find something, it's not the job of farm or garden owners to bring plastic or paper bags, and it's easy enough to remember to throw one of these in your own car.
It'll also reduce stress when walking from stand to stand since you'll be able to fill your own bag without carrying around a bunch of things and trying to try samples or check out items at the same time.
Go Around Once Before Making Any Decisions
The term "do a lap" is super helpful in this instance, since farmer's markets have a tendency to switch up their layout depending on who's attending and when.
Doing an initial lap around the entire circuit will give you a clear idea of not only what you want, but where it is. This makes things ten times easier when planning out what to buy and in what order since plants and veggies can wilt fast on hot summer days and should be purchased last.
Not All Produce Will Look New And Shiny, Don't Worry About It
The one distinction between finding produce at a farmer's market and finding it at the grocery store is the appearance. Keep in mind that all the produce at the farmer's market has come from an actual farm and has been harvested recently.
In the supermarket, shipments come in weekly and are washed down every ten minutes with an automatic sprayer. Produce straight from the farm often has the appearance of being slightly dusty, potentially oddly-shaped, and might be much bigger than supermarket produce. This doesn't mean anything other than it's fresh and locally-grown. It's a good thing!
Follow Farms And Boutique Shops On Social Media
Another thing that will help the navigation of a farmer's market is by following individual shops or farms on social media. Over the last few years, this has become a great way for local businesses to reach their audience and gain new customers.
It gives them the ability to post where they'll be and when along with a detailed list or photos of what they'll be selling. If nothing else, supporting them virtually is just as important as supporting them in person - sharing their posts and telling others about their great produce is a good way to support the community overall. If nothing else, you'll know exactly when to find those fresh, oversized beets when it comes time to make a salad and be supporting a local farm at the same time!