The farmer's market is a great place to buy fresh produce but that's not all that you will find there. Recently farmer's markets have seen a rise in popularity. You might feel a little lost or overwhelmed or just want to be prepared when you have your first visit.
1- Know all the different types of items that are available there.
You will find different types of produce but that's not all. Usually you can find meats, eggs, and cheeses. There will usually also be plants so that you can grow your own vegetables. Often there are also craftsmen as well. At my own local farmer's market I have seen items like homemade necklaces, carved wooden decor, decorative concrete garden items, and keepsakes and gifts. In addition there are also baked goods. Mine has a variety of healthy breads, regular breads, and this one sweet little lady who sells her homemade fried pies. (This is the best thing ever!)
2-Make sure to bring cash
You can be sure that there might be a few people who take a square reader but for the most part you will want to take cash. Forty dollars would be a good starting amount. It's doubtful you will need to use that much but better to be prepared than to see a lot of things you would like and have to leave to run to an ATM.
3-The early bird gets the worm
Usually most farmer's markets open really early in the morning. You can often find a social media listing that states the hours. Ours locally opens at 8am and runs through till noon. However, I've noticed that the later in the morning I have arrived, the less I have to choose from.
Remember that this isn't the grocery store. There isn't a huge amount of inventory in stock in the back. The later you show up, the best of the best is going to be snatched up first. Your choices are going to be limited and they might even be sold out of some items you had planned on.
4-Make the rounds
When you first arrive, it is tempting to buy the first item that you're interested in. I advise to wait. Take a gentle stroll through the market and enjoy the atmosphere. Scope out the tables and what each vendor has to offer. I've bought eggs at a table once and saw them for a dollar cheaper down the row. I've also spent most of my budget on the first few tables and then ran out before I saw an item that I would have really loved. Be patient, look through and take a mental inventory of the things you're interested in.
5-Produce is seasonal
Understand that the first day the farmer's market opens for the season, there isn't going to be a lot of produce available. The entire point of the market is that you can get fresh produce. Tomatoes aren't going to be available in early May unless it's from a grower with a greenhouse. Instead you're bound to find a lot of lettuce, green onions and spring veggies. There is usually at least one guy who does have a greenhouse so there is no need to wait until later in the season to make your first visit. You might want to take a peek at a list of when veggies are in season to get a general idea.
6-Make friends and have fun
Make friends with the vendors. Often they'll hook you up with advice, their best produce and maybe even a discount if they see that you are a regular customer. Last but not least, have fun. The farmer's market is such a lovely experience full of rich culture and the ability to support people in your own community. Enjoy!
What are some of your favorite things to buy from the farmer's market? What is your most unique find?