A Locals Guide to Surviving a Farmer’s Market.

By: Jessica Briese
March 25, 2016

I don’t know what it is…. maybe the thrill of finding a great deal, getting to sample delicious fruits and veggies, or picking out a fresh bundle of asparagus to use in that Pinterest recipe I really wanted to try. Whatever it is, being able to motor on down to my local farmer’s market just gives me the warm fuzzies knowing I’m helping to support local farmers, and enjoying some of the juiciest, freshest tasting goodies in the Sacramento region.

But I’d have to say, I was a little intimidated with my first farmer’s market experience a few years ago. For all I knew, it was a secret club for vegans, hipsters and greenpeace advocates that shunned anyone that didn’t know what GMO’s were. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Do I bring my own recyclable bags? Do they take debit cards? Did I need to get there right when it opened or was there a secret handshake I needed to know to enjoy this exclusive farm to fork experience? Well, despite all my unfounded misconceptions and litany of questions, I made it through. The best part was that I walked away with a newfound respect for local farmers and the work it takes to bring the fruits of their labor to the community, and what it means to support and eat local.

Whether you’re new to shopping at farmer’s markets or an old pro…there are certain things you should know in order to fully enjoy and survive this wonderful organic experience. Here are just a few tidbits of advice that I have gathered from frequent patrons and from my own opinion…

1) Bring Your Own Bag:

Yes, bring your own re-usable bags. It helps out not only the vendors, but also the environment.

2) Bring Cash:

Many vendors can take debit or credit cards, but by using cash, you know for sure you’ll be able to purchase your items, as well as speeding up the transaction time.

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3) Bring Water:

Depends on the time of year, but you will definitely want to stay hydrated while strolling the booths. There may be a refreshment stand or a food truck nearby, but it’s not always guaranteed. Why pay for something you can already get for free in your self-filtering eco-friendly water bottle.

4) Don’t Bring Your Dog:

I know… I know. Many people won’t agree with this one, but it’s not that everyone won’t think your fur-baby is adorable; it’s the fact that not everyone is comfortable around dogs they do not know. When you’re dealing with large crowds, and narrow walk-ways, plus being surrounded by foods and smells, bringing an animal where there are lots of triggers to excite or confuse your pup may create some issues. *Obviously this rule does not apply to trained service dogs, and note, that I myself am a loving dog owner so I speak from experience.

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5) Just Because You Have A Stroller, Doesn’t Mean You Have The Right Of Way:

Ok parents…let’s be straight. Yes, we understand your young child will need the comforts of a stroller as you shop for veggies. But this does not give you the right to mow over other people while nipping at someone’s heels…this isn’t Disneyland. Just have common courtesy when pushing your stroller. Allow for enough space between your stroller and other patrons, so we can all enjoy the market together.

6) It’s Not A Buffet:

One of the joys of going to a farmer’s market is to be able to sample and taste what you’re about to buy. You can compare one’s farmer’s cherries to another, and make an informed decision about your purchase. With this wonderful feature that vendors offer, it does not mean that you can stand there for 10 minutes having your afternoon snack. Be respectful that a vendor is cutting into their product to give you a taste – don’t use this as a smorgasbord for a free lunch.

7) Ask Questions:

Take advantage of the fact that the very people that are growing or producing the products for sale, are usually the ones manning their own booths. Ask questions, find out where a product locally comes from, how it was farmed or made. When you buy at farmer’s markets, you are supporting local farmers and businesses – they are passionate about what they do and would love to share their story.

8) Be Courteous:

To not just survive a farmer’s market, but to truly enjoy it and everything it has to offer…follow the golden rule. Being courteous to people will make your time and theirs, more enjoyable for everyone and the overall festive shopping experience.

So there you have it…a few ways to help you survive a farmer’s market. Now get out there with your re-usable bag, cash in your pocket, your self-filtering, biodegradable water bottle…leave your dog at home and start indulging in locally grown, fresh foods and other goodies all made in your backyard!

Check out where & when your local farmer’s market is taking place by searching eatfarmtofork.com.

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