8 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Trip to the Farmers Market

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Make your trip to the farmers market easier with these simple tips


Do you know what to bring to your local farmers market?

Warm weather and sunny skies are here, and more and more of us are shopping at our local farmers markets. Whether you love the sights, sounds, and smells of the bustling open-air market or whether you’re stressed out by the crowds of shoppers on hot summer days, the odds are good you could use a few tips to make your trip easier.

Click here for the 8 Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Trip to the Farmers Market (Slideshow)

Farmers markets play an important role in our ability to access fresh, wholesome, and locally produced foods. Every year farmland is lost to urban sprawl as fields are bulldozed to make space for shopping malls, condos, and office buildings, making it incredibly important that we support farmers in our communities. One way that we can show our support is by shopping at the local farmers market.

Whether you shop there on a semi-regular basis (and want to start buying more of your food from the farmers market) or have been too intimidated to go more than once or twice (but want to give it another shot), we have eight great tips that can help you shop with confidence and make the most out of your trip to the farmers market.

If you’re going to shop at the farmers market, then you’ll need to plan your meals around the fruits and vegetables that are in season — you won’t be able to get asparagus in March, for example. The benefit, however, is that by eating seasonal produce, you’ll get fruits and vegetables at the peak of ripeness (and deliciousness). Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with what’s in season; most farmers markets can provide you with a chart of what you can expect to be available each month.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to timing your visit to the farmers market. If you’re looking for the best selection of products, go early; many of the more popular items will sell out before the day is over. If, however, you’re looking for the best deal, then try visiting the farmers market late in the day; you’re more likely to find mark-downs.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

Things you can teach your kids at the farmers market

Taking your kids to the farmers market can be a fun outing &mdash but that&rsquos not all. It can also be a fabulous learning experience for them. Here&rsquos how.

When my son was just a baby, I started taking him to the farmers market regularly. It has come with challenges (such as keeping baby safe while shopping), but overall it has been a really great and worthwhile experience.

It has also been an awesome way to sneak lessons in when he wasn’t expecting it. The farmer’s market is a great place to teach about many, many things. Here are a few lessons your kids can take home.

1. What local food is

Understanding what local food is gives kids a sense of appreciation for their meals, and shopping at a local farmers market can make this concept a little more concrete. “By asking the farmers where their farms are located, they will understand that food is grown local to where they live. As a parent, you can share with them the importance of eating locally-grown foods to financially support the family farm and local community, as well as to reduce environmental impact by purchasing foods that require less gas mileage to get from production to consumption site,” says Rachel Begun, MS, a registered dietitian.

2. What goes into making a meal

How does that food get on the table? Eating isn’t a matter of microwaving something or boiling it. Food goes from ingredient to recipe to table. And kids can learn more about that process, thanks to a farmers market lesson. “A great way to make a trip to the farmers market a learning experience is by making it a family affair to walk through the farmers market and select ingredients for preparing a meal together,” says Begun.

3. What different types of farming mean

There are quite a few adults who don’t understand how organic and conventional farming differ, but you and your kids can learn first hand. “If you point out which foods offered are organic, it will spur a conversation about the differences between organic and conventional farming and also turn the conversation to the many different ways farmers treat their crops,” says Begun.

4. The seasons of foods

Strawberries in January? That’s not natural… and your kids can learn that if you teach them about seasonality. “As kids visit farmer’s markets on a regular basis, they will see the availability of certain foods at certain times of year, rather than all foods being available at all times (like in a supermarket). They can ask the farmers questions about why foods grow better at certain times of year (due to weather and growing conditions),” says Begun.

5. How to identify fruits and veggies

I’ll never forget seeing an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show and seeing kids not being able to identify raw veggies. Don’t let that happen to your kids. “The simple act of learning the names of all the fruits and vegetables can be very powerful. If you don’t know what to call it, how likely is it you will eat it? My kids learned this week at the farmer’s market what a turnip looks like, what it’s called, where it grows and what it tastes like. Not their favorite, but it’s a known veggie now,” says Sandra Ann Harris.

Go Early, but Not Too Early.

The best stuff goes fast. A farmer may only have a single flat of ripe, juicy blackberries or a couple of pounds of fresh green peas, so arrive early to make sure you get the best pick of the market's high-demand, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Take care, though, not to go too early: some markets disallow sales prior to the official hour and the sale you ask the farmer to make early may very well slow down set-up thus reducing the sales she or he can make later.

Yes, You Can Eat That: How to Cook With Kohlrabi From the Market

One of the best parts about our test kitchen manager, Brad Leone's, job is his weekly trip to the farmers' market. It's his responsibility to supply the kitchen with ripe produce, protein, and pantry staples year-round. In the summer and fall, when the farms are cranking out the good stuff, Brad is like a kid in a candy store. Every Wednesday, he hits the market with his reusable grocery bags to stock up on what's fresh and good—and do a little snacking and snapping along the way, of course. Check back here at our From the Market column to see what Brad picked up and, of course, to get some cooking inspiration of your own.

Kohlrabi has become the poster child for local, seasonally-focused means of sourcing produce. It seems near impossible to talk about the intricacies of cooking produce from a farmers' market or CSA without also tacking on some iteration of the phrase, "And kohlrabi! I mean, what's up with that?"

Kohlrabi is called out because it's easy to grow—many farmers plant it—but until recently, it hadn't infiltrated mainstream grocery store shelves. These days, it's much easier to find kohlrabi if you haven't cooked with it, chances are you've at least heard of it. Here are Brad's tips about what to look for when buying kohlrabi, as well as how to prepare it. Consider kohlrabi de-mystified, once and for all.

We don't have to tell you that we prefer kohlrabi from our friendly neighborhood farmers, do we? Says Brad, "I always recommend buying organic from a farmers' market for the freshest and most tasty specimens." Beyond that, Brad says to seek out bulbs that still have their leaves attached. "It's a good indicator that the veg is fresh, and that it was harvested recently, because the leaves wilt faster than the bulb." The bulbs themselves should be enclosed with skin that's very firm and tight. Kohlrabi is heavy, and should feel more like a baseball in your hand—less like a Nerf ball.

You've heard the phrase, "the darker the berry, the sweeter the fruit," right? Well, according to Brad: the smaller the bulb, the sweeter the kohlrabi.

As soon as you bring your kohlrabi home, separate the leaves from the bulbs. Brad keeps the both the leaves and the bulbs in the fridge the leaves go in a sealed zip-top plastic bag, the bulbs are stored loose. Use the leaves within a few days, but the unpeeled bulbs will last for weeks.

Although the bulb of the plant is the most frequently prepared and eaten portion, the leaves are also entirely edible. Chiffonade them finely and toss them in a vinaigrette, or give them a rough chop and either steam or sauté them, as you would collard greens or kale.

Kohlrabi is protected by a thick skin, which is either purple or pale green. There are no flavor variances between the colors, and the "meat" inside is all the same off-white color. Wise words from Brad: "Always peel the bulb, because the outside layer is rather fibrous and unpleasant. It won’t break down after being cooked." Use a sharp knife to remove the skin, as it's too thick for a traditional vegetable peeler.

Kohlrabi is equally tasty raw or cooked. Brad likes to thinly shave the peeled, raw bulbs into matchsticks (you can use a mandoline for help with this) and toss them into a slaw. They're also crunchy, juicy, and crisp, which makes them a great addition to salads and grain bowls—think of them as less-sweet apples in terms of texture.

Prefer to cook your kohlrabi? Keep it simple. Here's Brad's advice: "I like to sauté the greens and chopped stems with garlic and olive oil. Add a touch of crushed red pepper and you’re set." You can also treat the bulb as you would any other root vegetable—chop it and roast it until tender, or add it to soups and stews.

85 Awesome Things You Can Sell at Farmer’s Markets (That Aren’t Produce!)

If you are looking for ways to expand your marketing options, or if you don’t have enough land to grow extra produce for the market, there are still plenty of options! These 85 non-produce products can make you a stand-out at your farmer’s market!

Backyard farming is about so much more than just veggies and fruit… and your farm stand should be too! Backyard farmers can produce an abundance of food and products using the items they grow. Even if you are limited to a small garden space, you aren’t limited to the amount of amazing products you can create!

A little creativity can go a long way in impressing your customers with high quality, hand crafted and locally sourced products. After all, t’s not just about the fruits and veggies anymore! Make your farm stand the talk of the market this year with these 85 drool-worthy product ideas!

Always check your state and local regulations regarding the marketing and sale of cottage foods and other handmade goods. If you have questions, check with the good folks at your local extension office.

  1. Fresh eggs (chicken, duck, quail)
  2. Raw milk (check with state restrictions)
  3. Raw honey
  4. Honeycomb
  5. Beeswax
  6. Cut flowers
  7. Lavender
  8. Dried herbs
  9. Veggie starter plants
  10. Hanging baskets
  11. Dried gourds for crafting and decoration
  12. Dried glass gem corn for crafting and decoration
  13. Dried beans
  14. Nuts and seasoned nut mixes
  15. Dried edible seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, quinoa), seasoned or raw
  16. Potted flowers
  17. Berry starts
  18. Potted medicinal herb plants
  19. Mistletoe, holly boughs and pine boughs (great for Christmas markets!)
  20. Loose leaf herbal tea blends
  21. Soaps
  22. Lotions
  23. Chapsticks
  24. Homemade bread
  25. Homemade pies and pastries
  26. Homemade jellies and jams
  27. Homemade BBQ sauce
  28. Fresh or canned salsa
  29. Herb & salt blends
  30. Smoked fish
  31. Fresh squeezed lemonade
  32. Fresh-squeezed and bottled juice
  33. Hand-pressed apple cider
  34. Homemade wine
  35. Dried medicinal herb blends
  36. Canned marinara sauce
  37. Fresh pesto
  38. Popcorn or kettle corn
  39. Herbal salves
  40. Herbal tinctures
  41. Homemade extracts (vanilla, orange, lemon, etc.)
  42. Heirloom seeds
  43. Fresh floral wreaths
  44. Seed bombs
  45. Beeswax candles
  46. Home-roasted coffee beans
  47. Home-roasted nuts and seeds
  48. Homemade fudge
  49. Homemade granola bars
  50. Homemade jerky
  51. Homemade fruit leather
  52. Dehydrated fruit
  53. Mushrooms
  54. Shitake mushroom inoculated logs
  55. Freeze-dried fruit and veggies
  56. Olive oil infused with fresh herbs
  57. Homemade apple cider vinegar
  58. Dried sage smudge sticks
  59. Homemade applesauce
  60. Homemade ketchup
  61. Canned pie fillings
  62. Carnivorous plants
  63. Succulent gardens
  64. Fairy gardens
  65. Bonsai trees
  66. Flower bulbs
  67. Worm hotels for vermicomposting
  68. Homemade compost tea
  69. Hand-built bee boxes
  70. Hand-built raised garden beds and window boxes
  71. Homemade almond milk
  72. Fresh yogurt
  73. Fresh cheese
  74. Homemade kefir and kefir starter
  75. Kombucha
  76. Spun and dyed wool
  77. Natural coffee creamers from fresh milk
  78. Herbal bath salts
  79. Aloe vera and aloe plants
  80. Homemade nut butters
  81. Homemade butter with fresh herbs
  82. Homemade salad dressings with fresh herbs
  83. Infused vinegars
  84. Fresh guacamole
  85. Seasoned kale and zucchini chips

What are you selling this year at the farmer’s market? We want to hear! Share in the comments below!

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Rosemary-Strawberry Shortcake Pizza

Farmers market ingredients featured: Strawberries, rosemary, honey

Bake or grill this simple shortcake dough that packs an unexpected herby flavor boost from rosemary. A drizzle of honey and the quick addition of fresh strawberries and whipped cream make it an elegant dessert for any summer gathering. It's one of the best farmers market recipes to serve at a cookout (if you ask us) because you've already got the grill going.

How to Choose Produce at the Farmers' Market or Grocery Store&mdashPlus, Our Expert Storage Tips

These are the glory days for fruits and vegetables. When summer is at its peak, the farmers' market, farm stands, and grocery stores are stacked high with juicy heirloom tomatoes, just picked corn, and lots of zucchini, patty pan, and other soft-shelled squashes.

But we can't forget about those honeydew, cantaloupes, and watermelons, either. After all, they're the very essence of summer, perhaps even more so than corn on the cob or ripe tomatoes. But how to know which melon to pick? Biggest is not always best when it comes to produce.

Here, we share expert tips on selecting fruits and vegetables and storing them until you're ready to use each. Our advice stretches beyond summer's bounty&mdashwe love fresh produce year round and stalk the farmers' market in fall, winter, and spring, too. That's why we're offering expert advice on choosing cold weather vegetables like brassicas, hearty leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard, and trusty root vegetables including carrots, turnips, and parsnips.

Our assistant food editor Riley Wofford is a seasoned produce shopper. To pick the best, get up close and personal, she suggests. She employs her super-high-tech methods&mdashwhich include spotting, sniffing, and squeezing&mdashto find and keep winner fruits and vegetables to use for our food photo shoots and in recipe development in the test kitchen. Before we get into specific advice for different fruits and vegetables, starting with summer and working through the other seasons, here's one more piece of advice from Riley: Don't forget to bring your own tote bags. That's a farmers' market (or standard grocery store) shopping tip that she and all our food editors endorse.

Are You Ready To Start Selling At Farmers’ Markets?

On the surface, selling at a farmers’ market seems easy, but as you can see, there’s actually quite a bit of work that goes into planning, prepping, and selling your products. While it may take a lot of hard work and expense to sell your products and make a profit, there are many benefits to peddling your goods at farmers’ markets, including low costs, more personalized interaction with your customers, and creative freedom.

It’s up to you to determine if selling at a farmers’ market best fits your business goals. Once you’ve made the decision to move forward, we offer plenty of great resources to help you launch and operate your small business. From learning how to apply for a small business loan to choosing the right accounting software and POS systems, you’ll find everything you need to make your business dreams a reality. Good luck!

What We Are Doing

Here are the actions we and our market sellers are taking to protect our community:

  • Visitors, staff and volunteers are all required to wear masks at the market. Masks should cover mouth and nose. If you enter without a mask, or wearing a mask improperly, we will ask you to wear a mask or adjust your mask to a safe position.
  • Hand sanitizer is available at the entry, exit, and at vendors booths. For those who prefer, a water and soap hand wash station is also available at the entrance.
  • We have suspended product sampling.
  • We are communicating with our staff and market vendors regularly to reinforce health and safety precautions. We are advising our vendors and staff to stay home if they feel sick, and we are waiving cancellation fees for any vendors who need to cancel.
  • We are posting signage at the market reminding visitors of flu-avoidance etiquette, and to maintain physical distancing.
  • We are limiting the number of people entering at any given time, and are tracking numbers as people enter and exit throughout the duration of the market. We remain under the limit required by Manitoba Health.
  • No on site eating is allowed at this time picnic tables are taped off until the health order allows their use.
  • While we love the community gathering aspect of our market, due to the extremely limited numbers we may allow in the market at one time, we are asking households to send just one family member.
  • During this time, we request that you pick up the items you need for healthy meals, and not linger.

The most statuesque onion of them all, leeks are a delicacy. And they are edible from their roots right through their dark green leaves, like a vegetable version of nose-to-tail eating. Because leeks tend to be more expensive than their round onion cousins, they are sometimes passed over despite the fact that they are a zero-waste vegetable, and we're here to encourage you to pick some up next time you see them at the farmers' market or grocery. To help you make the most of these lovely vegetables, we've assembled our best leek recipes here.

The plump white bulb of a leek adds aromatic body to countless dishes. Cooked whole, leeks also make substantial meals, like the Buttery Leeks with Thyme and Parmesan that are pictured here. While they are sometimes discarded, green leek leaves are edible and meltingly tender and sweet when cooked in moist heat. You can eat leek roots, too, if you find them still attached. Once sand-free, they are juicy and crunchy, making for a wonderful topping for eight-minute eggs once deep-fried.

Leeks are accommodating and play well with other ingredients, switching politely from summer fare to winter warmth depending on their partners. Paired with crisp sugar snap peas atop toast, they make vibrant tartines for a warm weather supper. Cooked low and slow with earthy potatoes and good cheese, they are comforting on a cold night.

They do require careful washing, though. To clean leeks of the sand that can hide between layers, slit each leek down the center. Fill a large bowl with water and dunk them in. Check for sand and dislodge it with your fingers before giving them another rinse in clean water.

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