5 Tips to Make the Best of Shopping Local Farmer's Markets

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

The local farmer's market can be a great find for shoppers, but keeping a few strategic tips in mind can increase your enjoyment--and your finds!

There is nothing better than a farmer’s market in the summer—fresh fruit, fresh veggies, sometimes even fresh eggs and meats. Many farmer’s markets also invite craftsmen and artisans to sell their wares.

Yes, a farmer’s market can be a bonanza for the general public. But, there are a few tips one might want to keep in mind when browsing the rows and rows of tempting goods.

  • Get there early. A farmer’s market isn’t like a general store; there isn’t usually stock in the back. What you see is what you get. So, you are probably going to find the best of the best when the market first opens. That having been said, if you do get there toward the end, you will probably get your best deals on whatever is left.
  • Walk it all first. Though it is tempting to grab up the first things that catch your eye, it is probably in your best interest to walk through the booths first and get an idea of what is there and what the pricing is among the sellers. This, of course, goes out the window if you see something unusual or unique, something you are unlikely to see at other booths—buy something like that before it is gone. But, for common things—cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, etc.—it is worth walking the market, or at least some of it if it is unusually large, before making your purchases.
  • Take your own bags. Most sellers will have plastic bags they are recycling from retail stores, and those are fine. But, if you anticipate buying several items, carrying several of those bags can get rather clunky. Take one or two of your “green” grocery bags—everybody has at least one these days, it seems. They are much sturdier, and it is easier to keep shopping and looking with one bag than with a bunch of little ones.
  • Keep a cooler in your vehicle. This is a great idea all the time, but when you go to the farmer’s market, it is definitely a good idea, especially if you think ahead and place some ice or some cold blocks in the cooler ahead of time. You may want to take some of your purchases back to your car and keep shopping, and putting any perishables in a cooler is usually a good idea, especially in the hottest of summer days.
  • Be friendly and patient. Of course you should always be friendly and patient, but farmer’s markets are usually full of some of the friendliest people—sellers AND shoppers—you’ll ever meet! Be patient if the shopper in front of you is finishing up a story about why she just HAD to find fresh rhubarb today, or if the seller is taking time to explain the best way to use an unusual variety of garlic—this is not your typical retail brick-and-mortar!

Shop local!

Image: Wikimedia Commons