Make the most of your farmers’ market trip

Eight tips to help you get your hands on fresh local produce

Farmers’ markets are great places to get your hands on fresh, seasonal produce and homemade products while showing support for local vendors. However, the variety of items at farmers’ markets often change daily and if you aren’t a market master this may leave you feeling overwhelmed.

But don’t fret! We’ve compiled a few tricks and tips to help you have a successful and stress-free trip to your local market.

1. Research your local markets

Doing a bit of research on your local market is a great place to start. Find out the location, days and times of farmers’ markets in your area and use that to plan your trip. If you are unsure if your area has a farmers’ market, you can do a local google search or browse this list of Canadian markets.

Researching ahead of time will also give you an idea of the size of the market and what kind of vendors to expect.

2. Visit midweek if you can

While weekend markets tend to be a more convenient time for people to visit, midweek markets are often quieter. Smaller crowds will make it easier to talk to vendors and give newcomers a chance to browse with less stress. Check the times and days your local market operates and see if you can incorporate a midweek visit.

3. Go early

Plan to arrive at the market when it opens so you don’t miss out on popular seasonal items. The selection tends to be the best when the market first opens, especially with large markets where vendors might not be able to restock throughout the day.

4. Have an idea of what is in season

Knowing what produce is in season in your area, you will have a better idea of what to expect while visiting a local market. Produce varies across regions in Canada however, some early summer favourites include cherries, strawberries, and cucumbers. Later in the summer, you can find even more berries, corn, tomatoes, peaches, melons, and much more. By fall your local markets will likely be filled with a variety of apples, cranberries, and pears.

5. Bring your own bags

Bringing your own bag is the way to go when visiting a farmers’ market. Most vendors have some sort of bag to offer customers but they aren’t always ideal for lugging around large amounts of produce.

Another great part of farmers’ markets is that you are shopping right from the source so you can skip out on all the grocery store packaging and bags as well. Bringing some reusable grocery bags or a tote is a great and eco-conscious way to ensure all your purchases will make it home safely.

6. Have cash on hand

Cash is key when visiting farmers’ markets. Even though some more tech-savvy vendors take cards, cash is still the preferred method of payment at most markets. Keep in mind that you will also want to bring smaller cash and change as well. You don’t want to be the person who makes a vendor scrounge for change for your $50 bill.

7. Talk to the farmers

You don’t often get the opportunity to speak directly with the person that grew your food. While it might be tough to talk when the market is bustling, if you arrive while it’s quiet feel free to ask the vendors a bit about their products. Most are happy to share anything from how their produce is grown to how to eat and prepare it.

8. Try something new!

While we have given a lot of tips about preparation and planning for market visits, it’s important to browse and have fun! You can often find unique products you might not buy on your typical trip to the grocery store. Some market vendors might even offer samples, so go in with an open mind and try something new.