Outdoor farmers’ markets are opening throughout the region this week, and we want you to be fully prepared and in the know. Here are 5 quick tips to help you get the most out of the market this weekend!
Have a Budget In Mind
- Most market farmers and artisans do take credit now, but many don’t. And sometimes they take checks, and some don’t. And some only take cash. You’ll learn this as you go, but it’s always good to take cash if you can, and have a budget. Cash helps with that because you can only spend what you have! Farmers and artisans hope that you’ll return to the market each week. We don’t want you to stop coming because you spend too much money from your weekly budget! Really! So, make a plan and spend accordingly. (It IS ok to splurge once in a while. ONCE in a WHILE!)
Ask Questions If You Have Them!
- Just because a farmer or artisan sells their product at a farmers market does not automatically mean they use a certain growing practice (or buy product from farmers that use a certain growing practice). Always, always, always ask if the farmer/artisan is new to you, and if that is something that is important to you. Consumers have many preferences: local, sustainable, organic, certified organic, certified naturally grown, biodynamic, feed grown all on the farm. . . the list goes on and on and on and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all manual on how to farm. If you have questions, you can ASK the farmer/artisan – that IS why they’re there! – or you can do research at home through websites and social media if you feel “funny” asking. But please know, we don’t mind you asking!
- However, if a farmer/artisan does not use a practice that you choose to support in your home, please say, “thank you!” and head over to the next tent. We won’t be offended. Really! We do get offended, though, if you tell us how we SHOULD be farming/crafting. We are people eating/using our product in our homes, and we really don’t want to create a culture of bashing at the market. It’s a friendly opportunity to interact with neighbors, friends, and family while enjoying fresh, local foods, and educating the consumer on what makes our food/craft so delicious/fun/enjoyable. Let’s keep that culture going and growing!
Bring Your Own Bags. . . Or Don’t!
- Most every vendor is going to have a bag option if you don’t bring your own. However, it does help if you bring your own. (I think most of us have an embarrassing stash of reusable bags in our house. Let’s remind each other to move the stash to the trunks of our cars so we can actually use them for something other than a space-taker-upper in the corner room!) Keep in mind you may want to bring a separate bag for meat, or ask your meat vendor for a plastic bag if you’re going to be using the same bag for everything. Food safety matters!
Scope Out EVERYTHING
- There are a TON of things to see and try at the farmers’ market. Keep in mind that offerings on the tables will change throughout the growing season for most vendors. Scoping out the goods each week will help you learn what’s available in what season, and more importantly, help you create that weekly budget that you’ll spend at the market each week! Say, vegetable stir fry is on the menu this week, but maybe next week you’ll want to try pork stir fry from the other farmer two tents down. Or, maybe you’ll have burgers this week, but the chutney next door would taste great on that burger now that you know that burger is a juicy, tasty base for a TON of market ingredients. You won’t know what’s available if you don’t scope it all out first!
Tell Your Friends and Bring Them Back With You!
- If you like what you see, we would LOVE for you to bring your friends and family to the market with you. The more, the merrier! No purchase necessary. Here again – we’re trying to create that culture of education and enjoyment around fresh local food and community. We need YOU there to make that happen!
Looking forward to seeing you at a market soon!