Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts”)

Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.

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“Mama, mama! Let’s go to the fah-mah’s mah-ket togudder!”
“Ok! What should we get?”
“We should get bruffel frouts, broccoyi, finach…”

This exchange happens daily. My daughter knows the farmers’ market well. We go to several farmers’ markets a week. (We have four within 15 min of us–two in 5!) In season, with our coop and CSA membership, we never go to a grocery store. Now that’s something we both love!

I know farmers’ markets are “in” and exciting these days, but like CSAs they can take some getting used to. Some folks can miss out on the real joys and benefits of farmers markets. They don’t quite work like the store, so they can take some effort on our part as consumers.

While some stores make an effort to make a personal connection, farmers’ markets allow us to make a personal connection to the folks growing our food.

Here is my list of Not-So-Common Farmers’ Market “Musts”

  • Bring our own bags.
    Ok. This first one might be common, but it’s a must for me! Poor farmers hauling and paying for bags. Plus, I try to keep the berry/veggie containers, egg cartons, honey jars, etc. to give back. Those costs add up for them. I put the bags on the door handle and the containers near there (and then in the bag—baby brain much?).
  • Talk to the farmers/sellers.
    I ask the non-organic folks about their practices. It’s a rare farm around me that is organic, but there are lots that don’t spray. I found out from talking to farmer folks that some of them who rent land are in binds b/c of the landowner. Never thought of that. There are some farmers doing sustainable work and producing healthy food that don’t have a certain label. I also like to ask them about things I hear. Ask the raw goat/cow milk guy if he is experiencing any pressure with the crackdowns going down on raw milk.
  • Find your folks, and give them all the love and attention you can.
    I have a honey guy, a mushroom guy, produce people, the goat cheese person. I have my favorites and ask after their day and families and such. They’re always passing me extra goodies, which I think is generous of them….and super yummy for my family!
  • If you need to know (or even if you’re a bit curious), ASK.
    Eating tips, storing, recipes, and more. I ask about growing my food since they know how to grow things. There is so much to learn from the wise people I find at the farmers’ markets.
  • Talk to your farmers ahead of time.
    Tell them what you want. For example, you might be able to get cases so you can freeze, can/jar, or store for the winter. Only one step from pick your own for bulk preserving and oh so yum!
  • Join the mailing lists of the vendors you trust and like.
    Then you can get email updates. I get tips on the best pick your own dates, recipes for unusual foods and contact info to keep track of where folks are if they stop coming to the market. There can be a lot of politics behind the scenes of farmers’ markets, and I like to know that I can find the farmers I know and trust.

If we want healthy foods to be available, then we need to support farmers, not just the farms they run. They need us, and we need them. Together we can help each other.

I believe the closer the relationship between the consumers of food and the farmers themselves, the healthier and happier we will all be.

One of the first farmers’ markets after the start of babyled weaning/solids

RELATED POSTS:

Nature Play!
Strawberry Picking
Gardening with Children (and Scissors!) Builds Fine Motor Skills

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • 10 Simple Ways to Make the Farmer’s Market More Fun for Kids — Lorie at Reading Confetti shares ideas and books to help kids get the most from the farmers market experience.
  • 10 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter About The Importance of Shopping at the Farmer’s Market — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares the ten lessons she hopes to impart to her daughter about the importance of shopping at local farmers markets.
  • Charmed by Two Small Town Markets — Shannon at GrowingSlower was charmed by two small-town farmers markets while on vacation.
  • The Olympia Farmer’s Market (and a giveaway!) — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes and family took a trip to their state capitol to experience a new market. See what they saw, and enter to win a book written about that very market.
  • On the Hunt . . . At the Farmer’s Market! — Exploring the farmers market by Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writing at Natural Parents Network — with a scavenger hunt!
  • Exploring the Market … Alphabet StyleThat Mama Gretchen is in the midst of creating a learning tool for her toddler and it’s all about the market!
  • Unschooling at the Farmers Market — Megz at Aspen Mama loves building memories as a vendor at the Market.
  • Montessori-Inspired Vegetable Unit — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares links to Montessori-inspired vegetable printables and activities to help your family get the most out of a trip to the farmer’s market.
  • Markets — How sustainable mum has fitted a monthly farmers market into a weekly food shop.
  • The Farmers Market In Under An Hour (“Carl Style”) — Andrea and family at Tales of Goodness adapt their farmers marketing approach to make everyone happy.
  • Tales Of a Troubled Gardener — Sam at Love Parenting writes about her dream of self-sufficiency and her lack of gardening skills!
  • A Few {Of The Many} Reasons Why I Love Our Farmer’s Market — Even though the experience can sometimes be less than peaceful, MomeeeZen shares why she enjoys taking her family to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
  • Experiencing the Farmer’s Market from a Different Perspective — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM had a great time letting her toddler lead the way at the farmer’s market…
  • Ask A Farmer’s Daughter — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter answers questions about her life growing up on a small family farm in New England.
  • Giving Up the Grocery Store — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her family’s summertime challenge to eliminate trips to the grocery store and rely almost exclusively on local, farm-fresh foods.
  • Urban farming and fresh food in the city — Lauren at Hobo Mama takes trips to farms, gardens, and markets within reach of a big city.
  • Market Tip: Get to Know Your Farmers — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finally gets up the guts to talk to her farmers and learns she is among ardent food lovers.
  • New Farmer’s Market Find — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is excited to make a new find at her new farmers market.
  • “The Real World” Grassroots Edition — jessica at instead of institution takes some time out to write a love note.
  • 9 Insider Tips for Farmer’s Market Newbies — Dionna at Code Name: Mama chatted with a few farmers to bring you some insider information on how to get the most out of your local farmer’s market.
  • The Place Where I Can Say “Yes!” — Erica at ChildOrganics gives you a tour of her favorite vendors at her local farmers market and discusses the benefits of creating community through the market.
  • Raw Local Milk — Jorje shares her family’s field trip to a local dairy. Learn what you can appreciate from a small town farm at Momma Jorje.com.
  • Italian Secret Vegetable Soup Recipe — Alinka at Baby Web convinces an Italian Farmer & Cook to reveal a precious minestrone recipe and shares it with her readers.
  • Where do our eggs come from? A visit to Sucellus Farms. — Carli at One Fit Mom takes her family to meet the chickens that have been providing their daily eggs.
  • Beyond the Farm — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and her family enjoy looking beyond the food at the local farmer’s market to see the wares of the over vendors.
  • Magic at the Market — Do you ever take time to really look at the food you eat? Amy at Anktangle enjoys marveling at the beauty (and the utility) of the foods and goods available at the farmers’ market.
  • Farmer’s Market Discoveries — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen reminisces about the discoveries she’s made at the Farmer’s Market throughout the years.
  • Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts”) — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience.
  • Pick Your Own And Eat It — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares their trip to a PYO farm and the journey from picking to eating her favourite food
  • 15 responses to this post.

    1. […] Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts&#… — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience. […]

      Reply

    2. […] Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts&#… — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience. […]

      Reply

    3. […] Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts&#… — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience. […]

      Reply

    4. That picture is delicious in itself!

      I really love your passion for farmers’ markets and the way you go about it. I want to get to know the people better at mine so I feel more a part of the fabric. I love the idea of storing up preserves and such through them as well — just wish we had more storage space!

      Reply

      • There are so many stories behind the folks at the farmers’ market, and I love hearing and knowing more about my food. I have a lot to learn, and these folks have a lot of wisdom! I can see how storage would be an issue. You need space like a freezer or fridge, or can you pickle?

        Reply

    5. I definitely agree about talking to farmers before hand if you’re interested in something they may not always bring along, like bushels to preserve. At our farm market, there are always customers looking for over-ripe jam berries and we know to save them because they ask. Otherwise, we’d eat the over-ripe berries or throw them in the compost.

      Reply

    6. Yes, yes, yes! We have really hit our farmer’s market this year, and I’ve enjoyed visiting with a couple of the farmers we see regularly. They are so kind! And it’s fun to know that their hands picked our veggies 🙂
      ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

      Reply

    7. Sooo jealous of all your markets!!! We have one little one but we still love it!

      Reply

    8. […] Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts&#… — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience. […]

      Reply

    9. […] Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts&#… — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience. […]

      Reply

    10. I love this post! And I love that we undertook the same approach to “give up the grocery store.” Such great tips on using the farmers’ market. I especially love your description of your “honey guy,” your “mushroom guy,” etc. It seems this is the way it used to be, when we would get our foods from specialized suppliers, and then lost our way somewhere in assuming that one-stop shopping would be better….

      Reply

    11. […] Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts&#… — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience. […]

      Reply

    12. Wonderful post. I completely agree that we all need to step up and make sure our farmers are thriving. It’s a win-win! Thanks.

      Reply

      • Yes, it is important to me that our (local and national) food system be vibrant, healthy and thriving. I want my family, and A Living Family, to do what we can to make the connections and community so that the goal is attainable. Thanks for reading, Andrea.

        Reply

    13. I love that you manage to completely avoid the supermarket, you are so lucky to have such great access to local produce! Lovely post! Sam

      Reply

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