5 Benefits of Your Farmers Market
It’s the unofficial kick off to summer. Hope everyone had an awesome weekend. I know we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had a birthday party, a beach day, picnic and even got a whole section by our sidewalk weeded (again). Our Farmers Market haven’t kicked off quite yet, but I know they’re coming. We even have a new one starting right in town this summer which I can’t wait to check out. Whether you grow a garden or not your local farmers market probably has something for you.
1. Markets aren’t just veggies
There are about as many different types of farmers market as there are veggies. Some focus on food, others have a variety and there are even some that have become destinations. One near us that we love may be small, but it has a great selection. There’s some food trucks, traditional veggies, assorted foods and of course, specialty foods. The hubby loves to check out our local hot sauce guy and see what he’s got cooking and tons of other things. Home decor, as well as crafters. On the food side of things, there’s local bakeries, our local kettle corn place (personal favorite especially for the beach movies), homemade pasta, homemade bread and of course some local farmers. There’s even some that cater to our four legged friends.
2. Fresh veggies the basis for the farmers market
What would a farmers market be without veggies? Most of our local farmers are part of a group that pledges to use organic methods when growing. The best part for us, the prices really are right in line for commercial produce but you’re getting freshly picked organic instead. The coolest part is that most farmers love to talk so you can always chat them up for new recipes, find out more about what they have coming and some will even pass along growing tips.
We love floating around and seeing what the farmers have available and then making our menu, or once the season gets going essentially doing most of our shopping (if we need anything) at the market. Check out this recipe for fresh veggie soup that utilizes a ton of produce you can get from the market. Our ultimate goal though is to not have to buy anything as it just comes from our garden. But when the garden isn’t quite up to snuff or hasn’t really kicked in yet the market is a great place to fill in the gaps.
So remember, if you can’t grow anything or don’t have the space, you can always hit up your local farmers market and get a lot of the same benefits. Extra benefit of getting to meet someone new and support a local farmer.
3. Learning to Eat in Season
One cool trick to utilize when you’re starting out is to pay attention to when things become available. As you’re looking at the stalls and bins filled with various produce, remember these guys are local to you and growing in the same conditions that you are. So their seasons are going to be pretty similar.
The farmers market is also a great place to get volume. For us, for example, we haven’t been able to grow enough cucumbers to meet our needs of salads, snacks plus pickles. So I generally pick up a huge volume of pickling cukes at the market so I can come home and make our pickles. Even better is sometimes they’ll give an extra discount if it’s late and you’re just about clearing them out anyway. (remember they have to bring it all home if it doesn’t sell)
We’ve picked up tomatoes and even pumpkins and winter squash towards the end of the season so that we can put it up for the winter. Overall I’ve actually found the potatoes and winter squash from the farmers market to hold up better for the long term storage than things we’ve picked up from the regular store.
4. Family Fun
Now we might be very fortunate in this category, but most of the farmers market near us have theme nights/days. That means they’ve got something else going on than just selling. Ours has musicians playing every week and different performances. Sometimes kid driven, sometimes more for the adults. We have petting zoo night, classic car night is always popular, tractor, hayrides, and even a giant bonfire to close out the season. There’s always something going on.
I think the most fun is when they bring out the local businesses. They’ll grab brick n mortar businesses in town, as well as local authors, and artists. They even usually have a meet your local government night where they’ll try to get the local representatives to come hang out as well as individuals from the local town government. It’s nice to put actual faces to people that generally live on a yard sign or in your computer.
And let’s face it. The kids just love running around and bumping into their friends and people they know. They think it’s so cool.
Which leads us right into our last benefit. This one might just be the most important one though. The last thing that you can’t forget about, for your local farmers market, is community. We run into so many people that we don’t normally see it’s awesome. People don’t seem as rushed at the market. They’ll actually stop and chat (at least until the littles decide it’s time to move on).
With our market having all kinds of events throughout the year, it attracts different people. There’s literally something for everyone. Which also makes it a great place to network and meet new people too if that’s your thing. Or just continue to build on relationships you already have. You never know why someone is in your life. So kick back and head to a local market this summer to start meeting your neighbors, or just say hi.
Do you visit your local markets? What do you look forward to the most? Leave a comment below and let us know.