One sure sign of spring in most areas is the appearance of local farmers’ markets. These are a wonderful way to find farm-fresh, locally grown produce, baked goods, crafts, and build new relationships. If you are new to market shopping, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make your experience more enjoyable.
1. Come Early — most of the best stuff goes first, so you want to be there for the best choice.
2. Come Late — This seems like a conflict of advice, but as the day draws to a close, many vendors would rather make a deal on the items they have left than to take them back home. If you enjoy a bargain – or like to sleep in – this may be the best time for you.
3. BYOB — Bring Your Own Bags. Many farmers and vendors do not supply bags for your purchases, so bring along a sturdy shopping bag. For larger markets, you may want to bring a wagon or cart.
4. Dress comfortably – depending on the size of the market or your shopping list, you may spend quite a bit of time browsing. Many markets are set up on paved parking lots, grassy fields, or gravel lots, so your choice of shoes is important for a pleasant day.
5. Plan Ahead – try to be aware of what is in season in your area and plan a menu or recipes around those items. But be prepared for a few surprises! Early vegetables or fruits may show up unexpectedly, so be flexible.
6. Bring cash in small bills. Although an ATM may be close by, or an occasional vendor will accept credit or debit cards, many markets operate on a cash basis and vendors won’t always have change for large bills.
Enjoy your trips to the market. Become a regular customer and get to know the farmers. Fresh is always better – and it doesn’t get any fresher than your local Farmers’ Market!