The 5 Spot: Ways to Improve Your Farmers Market Experience
By Sarah Quallen, Co-op Volunteer Writer
If I’m in town, and if it’s not too cold and rainy, I spend Saturday mornings downtown cruising the Farmers Market. My children are used to this routine and, since we have designated Saturday as “treat day,” they
have come to expect either mini-donuts or a scoop of ice cream upon our arrival. My children are three and five; prior to this year it has taken most of my husband’s and my energy just to keep them from getting lost. So now that we can focus more on the complete Farmers Market experience, I’ve collected some ideas on how to make the shopping part as good asthe social part.
But not too early. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Well, at the Farmer’s Market, early birds don’t get the worm, rather, they get the best possible produce and vendors still have their full selection of products. But if they get there too early, then shoppers get vendors who aren’t completely ready to serve customers.
Seems a little contradictory to my first suggestion, doesn’t it? Late arrival does limit one’s selection, but it can provide more frugal shoppers the opportunity to get lesser quality produce (usually the stuff that’s bruised or damaged in transportation) at a lower price. Since it is the end of the farmers’ day, they may also be willing to sell at a lower price just to clear out their inventory.
Often vendors accept cash only, and if everyone pays with large bills their change gets depleted quickly. Having exact change expedites the transaction and helps the line move quickly. And remember, small bills are always appreciated!
Bring Your Own Bags/Boxes/Coolers:
While vendors often have something to package your purchases in, it raises their expenses (and therefore, yours), and it’s just one more way you can participate in reducing waste. Another helpful move is to bring your empty boxes from last week back to the vendors so they can reuse them.
Try Something New:
The Farmers Market provides an excellent opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone. If you have questions about a food–like how to cook or prepare it or what to pair it with–ask the farmer. Talking with the farmers is also an excellent way to show your appreciation for them.
While this list focuses on improving your shopping experience, remember that our Farmers Market is about so much more than shopping for produce—it’s also about community, socializing, and fun.