Everyone loves a good farmers’ market. You have a fun day out with the family and you get some fresh air and exercise. The highlight, of course, is all the yummy and pretty stuff you get to take home. Farmers’ markets are very popular and you may sometimes miss out on stuff because you don’t know how to make the most of it.
We spoke to a market manager and she gave us some advice on how to make the most of the market. If you follow her advice, you should get the best of the best fresh produce and see everything that is on offer before it is sold out. Let’s see what she says.
Go early. The best produce and items go first and fast. Most farmers and other vendors have a limited amount of top grade, juicy, shiny, or ripe products. To make sure you get some, get to the market early. Take care to not get there too early and ask for a sale before the actual opening hour. This could set the vendor back because they lose time with setting up and people may pass them because they don’t want to wait.
Go late. If you want to experience the market, but have a tight budget, going later may be good. This is not a set practice and some markets forbid it, but vendors sometimes discount their products near the end of the day. If they have fresh produce or other items that they don’t want to have to haul back with them, they may mark it down to get rid of it. The chance to score some products for cheap is there, but don’t expect it.
Ask questions. If you want to be sure what you’re buying, ask lots of questions. This is specifically important for fresh produce or meat sales. Some markets have very strict rules about what is sold and require all vendors to only use organic ingredients. Some markets require a certificate to prove this. If you want to make sure you know where your food comes from, ask questions. The vendor should not have a problem with answering questions.
Bring bags and baskets. Just like shopping centers don’t just give away plastic bags anymore, farmers’ markets don’t allow vendors to give or sell plastic bags to customers. It will be best to bring a basket or your own bags to carry your produce and other items. It is convenient, environment-friendly, and easier to carry than plastic bags.
Offer your services. Markets are usually quite big with a lot of vendors and a large area to cover. Market managers have a lot to do between supplying change, keeping problem people out, dealing with heat stroke victims or epilepsy attacks, making sure the tents stay put, and many other small problems that arise. They can use some help. Offer your services to them to help out. This way you get to know the vendors and farmers. Some managers pay the people who help out with a nice big bag of fresh produce or other vendor goodies.
Cash. Technology has allowed some vendors to now have credit card machines wherever they are. At a farmers’ market, however, it is still best to have cash on you. It is faster, easier, and less hassle and expenses for the vendor. Take small bills and other change as this will help the vendor out and make your shopping experience more worth it.
Take a cooler. Many of the items for sale at these markets are fresh and should be refrigerated. You might have to pass by some great products like milk, fish, fruits and vegetables because you are afraid they will not survive the day. By taking a cooler with ice, you can avoid this dilemma. You can buy cold products and rest assured that they will still be in a good condition when you get home.
Know your seasons. Many people don’t know when fruits and vegetables are in season. Because of this many markets get asked why certain fruits or vegetables are not available. The simple answer is that they are out of season. To make sure you get the fresh produce you want, find information about the seasons during which certain produce is planted and harvested.
Now that you are prepared, you can go visit your nearest market with cooler and basket in hand. Always remember to be grateful for our farmers and be friendly to all our vendors. They work hard to get their products ready.