Making the Most of the Farmer’s Market

Making the Most of the Farmer’s Market

The days are getting nicer (hot even!) and if you are like me you are having visions of fresh garden produce. Not everyone can have a massive backyard garden so we turn to our other option…farmer’s markets. Farmer’s Markets are a great option for being able to buy fresh, local produce right in your town. Plus I think it’s kinda fun to look around at all the goodies that are offered! Here’s a few tips to help you make the most of your trips to the farmer’s market this year.

1. If you are looking for a particular item, check out all the booths before you buy. Even if you find a good deal on a certain product at one stand, the next one might have an even better deal and you won’t know until you check it out! Our local farmer’s market isn’t very big so I will go through all the booths first before I buy.

2. Learn to bargain to stretch your dollars. Especially if it’s towards the end of the day…the farmer’s will be motivated to sell. If you haven’t already learned the art of bargaining you can check out these posts:

Bartering to Stretch Your Dollars
Bargaining

3. Buy in bulk. Often farmers will offer you a big discount if they have an abundance of a product and they are ready to sell. Buy in bulk and ask for a discount. You can always preserve the produce if you can’t eat it right away. If you are at the farmer’s market towards the end of the day, this is a good time to make bulk purchases since the farmer’s will be trying to sell off their remaining produce before they have to pack up and head for home. (Learn all about Buying in Bulk here)

4. Don’t compare produce prices at farmer’s markets to in-store prices. Sure, you may be able to pay $0.99 a pound for roma tomatoes at the grocery store on sale but they won’t be local, organically grown, farm fresh romas. Knowing grocery store prices will help you be able to make a baseline price for what you’d be willing to pay but shouldn’t be a guideline.

5. Looking for organic? Ask the farmer. Plenty of farmers grow their produce organically or sustainable but they aren’t certified organic. (It’s expensive and complicated to get certified!) If you’d like to know if a product is conventionally raised or organically raised, just ask.

6. BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag! Otherwise you may have to learn the hard way like I did and have to carry all kinds of produce around with you while you are still trying to shop. Some farmer’s have bags available but they appreciate it when you bring your own!

7. Make sure you check out multiple farmer’s markets if available in your area. I know I can go to the farmer’s market in town that’s close by or I can travel a little bit further to another farmer’s market in a nearby town and get some great deals. The bigger farmer’s market isn’t always the best option. Although they may have the most farmer’s competing to make a sale to you many of them may have had to travel to the location so they may have to charge more for their goods than someone selling at a farmer’s market in their own small town.

8. Get to know the farmers. This especially helps if you are looking for a particular item. Ask the farmer that carries it when they will be selling or when they plan to have it for sale. This is also a great way to learn how the vegetables are grown. If you are looking for items that are organic a farmer may not have that listed up front but may use organic growing practices on their farm.

farmersmarketproduce

Most importantly, have fun! Enjoying being out and shopping and supporting your local economy and local farmers!

What are your best tips for shopping at farmer’s markets?

merissabio

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24 Comments

  1. Those are some really good ideas. We have an awesome farmer’s market here in town every week. I need to go back and see what fresh produce is in season now. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

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  3. I always walk through ours once before buying anything. A lot of times different farms will offer the same item and both look great, but one price will be a bit lower. I also ask to be sure it is organically grown. I got some fantastic yellow watermelon last Saturday when we went! Yummy

  4. WHERE is the farmers market located now? I have only found them once so far this year (across the street from the ugly fish park, in the frisbee golf parking lot) and there were only 3 or 4 booths?? Can you give me the location and days/times please? I am missing the BIG market somehow, and need my years worth of tomatoes soon! Thanks!

  5. Jolynn, they are back in the same place now on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I think there is something downtown on Saturdays too.

  6. Get to know the sellers. I go to the same lady once a week and usually right before they close. She always gives me extra. She knows me and my kids. It’s nice to know that she remembers us and what’s going on in our lives and it makes me want to go back to her.

  7. Good tips! I got to know one farmer in particular last summer and he was great about bringing certain items for me from week to week if I let him know one Saturday that’d I’d want it the next. (Our local market is only open on Saturday morning). For example, one week he only had small thin zucchini and I wanted some to stuff, so he kept a few on the vine longer just for me, so I’d have some larger ones to stuff. Also he had a Facebook page, so if I liked something I bought, through the week I’d mention it on his FB page and he’d try to have more for me the next week too.

  8. My best tip for shopping at farmers markets is to buy in season. When every single booth at the farmers market is offering tomatoes for sale (especially in a good year), the prices will be lower. Once, my favorite farmer was selling bushel baskets of “canning tomatoes” for $20. When someone asked him what made them “canners” since they looked so nice, he said “Nothing, it’s just that I can’t sell them at regular price because everyone else has them.”

    Other times I’ve found eggplants for $.50, or peppers at 5 for $1 when they are in peak season. I buy a ton at these times to plan the week’s meals around, and can/freeze/dehydrate.

  9. We’ve gone one better than visiting Farmer’s Markets, at least in our current neck of the woods. We shop across the border in Lancaster and York Counties in Pennsylvania. What we have found is that many of the Amish farms sell dairy and produce along with other items. The prices are far less expensive than even the Farmer’s Markets (not that their prices are bad-they really aren’t). We buy what we can’t grow efficiently ourselves from them, bring it home and either can it or freeze it. If anyone out there has an Amish Community nearby, check them out. Just look for their “shingle” hanging out at the end of their lane. They are a tremendous resource!

  10. Excellent article! Very appropriate for many of us “suburban homesteaders” And for those of us who have health/mobility issues. Because having a garden of large enough size is just unrealistic. This is the way to go. Not only will you be able to can or freeze all you want. But more importantly, your of course helping a local farmer and your local economy. I like to deal also with roadside stands in the deeper country side. I frequent them as much as i can. And get to know there names as a friend. Then i have no problem in asking for better deals on larger quantities etc. And don’t to afraid to be what i call “friendly but firm”. After all, if they don’t sell it. It might end up rotting and getting thrown away. And that’s real waste.

  11. Hi Merissa, Great ideas! Nothing is better than fresh produce locally grown! Blessings, Janet

  12. Great point on considering the quality of the produce from a farmer’s market versus the price in supermarkets. I love window shopping farmer’s markets but rarely buy anything unless I can get it only or cheaper at the farmer’s market…

  13. Good ideas. I have a really hard time with bargaining, even though I know it’s a good way to save money. Occasionally I try, but it totally makes me anxious. So I usually just pay full price but try to find god deals by shopping around. I like the idea of buying in bulk, though, and asking for a discount that way. I could probably bring myself to ask a farmer for that. 🙂

  14. I love a farmers’ market. We have a few great ones here where I live in Kent and I love browsing through and supporting the local growers. It is more expensive but I really don’t mind. What you are getting for your money is well worth it. Also you are helping support a local family and their employees rather than lining the pocket of an already millionaire.

    Sally @ Life Loving

  15. We joined up with a CSA this year, and I’m really looking forward to harvesting what I can from our patio garden. (One of the joys of apartment living!) But I know I’ll still have to supplement and am hoping to check out some farmer’s markets too. 🙂

  16. All such good tips! I am a huge fan of Farmers’ Markets, having managed one in Toronto for two summers, and I love that you are encouraging everyone to visit. Checking out all the tables is a great idea, as it asking whether items are organic. I always try to buy an item or two from all (or several) farmers to spread the love around.