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Tips And Tricks For Shopping At The Local Farmer’s Market

With inflation rising, everyone is looking for a way to save money, especially when it comes to groceries. Farmer’s markets are a summer tradition and great places to find fresh seasonal produce at more affordable prices.

The epitome of what shopping local is all about, they can also be overwhelming and unfamiliar; mazes of stalls selling everything from heirloom tomatoes and Asian spinach to a thousand different types of radishes.

The following simple tips will help make a trip to a farmer’s market cost-effective and enjoyable.

Produce

Cash

Although many vendors have portable debit machines or accept credit cards, some don’t. As I’ve learned the hard way, these vendors will be the ones you want to buy from. Small bills and coins will simplify payment and give the vendor much-needed change for other customers.

Bring Bags

Many vendors won’t have bags, so bringing something to carry your purchases is a good idea. A small, lightweight cooler bag is great for keeping fruits and vegetables from wilting or spoiling on a hot day.

Look Around

Before making a purchase, walk around to see what’s available and compare the prices and quality of the produce.

Plan Ahead

Everything looks enticing at a farmer’s market, and it’s tempting to want to try and buy all that catches your eye. But, before you head out, think about your weekly meal plan and list what you’ll need. Doing so will save you time and money.

Keep Harvest Times In Mind

Even though you may have your heart set on Brussels sprouts, remember that in most areas, this crop is harvested later in the growing season. On the other hand, veggies like zucchini, snap peas, or pole beans are ready mid-summer.

Local

Pick Your Time

Arriving as the gates open helps you avoid crowds and get first pick at the produce. But I like going at the end of the day. The selection may be less, but vendors are anxious to pack up and often will mark down what they haven’t already sold. It’s a great time to get bargains.

Don’t Haggle

It’s tempting to try and negotiate deals, but remember, for most vendors, this is how they make their living, and the prices are already better than the supermarket.

Be Adventurous

Farmer’s markets are great places to showcase niche crops, like heirloom fruits and vegetables. A purple heirloom tomato may not be something familiar, but give it a try; you might like it. I did.

Buy More Than Vegetables And Fruit

Farmer’s markets also sell locally made artisan and baked goods, fresh eggs, local honey, preserves, beauty products, wild foods, and speciality wines and spirits. Don’t limit yourself. Remember, it’s about supporting local as much as getting a good deal on lettuce.

Finding A Farmer’s Market

Farmers’ market associations provide days and times when markets will operate in your area. An online search should provide a comprehensive list. Check them all out, then choose a favourite. By supporting a local farmer’s market, you’re helping the local economy, getting nutritious products at reasonable prices, and encouraging a growing movement towards local and regionally sourced goods.

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Author

Invited by the Canadian Garden Council to be an ambassador for the Year of the Garden 2022, Jennifer is a garden enthusiast, writer, and alumni of Simon Fraser University. Her by-lines have regularly appeared in the opinion section of the Toronto Star and her portfolio includes articles for Chatelaine online, among other newspapers, magazines and websites across Canada. When not writing her own blog or producing her gardening newsletter “The Perennial”, you can find her visiting local garden centres and puttering, planting, and nourishing her own urban garden oasis in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.