Part Two of a three-part series about the joyful place known as your local farmers’ market.

FruitOne of the great things about shopping at your local farmers’ market is the experience you have when you’re there. Weaving between the stalls, taking in the bountiful displays that surround you, and truly appreciating the goods being sold are all part of the shopping adventure. Before you arrive, it helps to think about how you can be most effective during your shopping experience. With that in mind perhaps one, some, or all of the following tips will resonate with you:

1. Before you head out the door, take just a few moments to think logistically. As is always the case when considering logistics, you’ll be glad you did. Some ideas to consider:

  • Bring cash
  • Bring reusable bags (and a grocery cart or child’s play wagon if you plan to buy plenty)
  • Wear comfy clothing and sunscreen
  • Bring creature comforts like sunglasses, water bottles, and snacks for the kids
  • If you drive to the farmers’ market, consider stowing a cooler in the car to keep things fresh until you get home

2. Arrive at your farmers’ market with an expectation of good. This includes being pleasant to those around you, expressing patience, and planning enough time (whenever possible) for this to be a joyful experience as opposed to a warp speed errand. In short, try not to re-enact the dash-and-go routine that should only be reserved for your local Muzak-filled chain grocery store.

3. Shop early – or shop late. Either is fine. If you arrive early in the day (when it opens), you’ll get the best selection while enjoying the market in the calm of the day before armies of adults, toddlers, and pets stroll from stall to stall. And if you arrive late (just before the market closes) you’ll likely get the best deals because those selling their wares do not want to take things home. (Of course, some vendors may be sold out by closing time.)

4. Get the lay of the land first, shop second. It’s okay to be thrilled about browsing at a farmers’ market. For one thing, you never know what exciting items are waiting around the corner. Those selling their wares often have new items for sale – and you don’t want to miss out on freshly picked anything in your rush to plow through a produce shopping list. Bring along a grocery list, but be prepared to be flexible. And it’s completely acceptable to purchase a perfectly ripe fruit or other delectable to enjoy while browsing.

5. Get to know the experts. They’re right in front of you! Ask questions of those whose wares you’re purchasing. Find out how their cheese was made, how they know when to pick their tomatoes, and what tips they have for growing gorgeous sunflowers and delicious basil at home. Those selling their wares usually know what they’re talking about…take some time to learn from your local experts. If you let your inner journalist out the next time you’re at a farmers’ market, you’ll likely return home with some new cooking tips, garden ideas, and a recommended recipe or two. And you’ll have some fun in the process.

Living an organized life isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being peaceful. A few moments of preparation before your farmers’ market shopping adventure will contribute to a peaceful shopping experience, joyful mealtime preparations, delicious meals for the week ahead, appealing brown bag lunch options, and support of local farmers and businesses. In short, experiencing your local farmers’ market is a win for everyone.

* photo by David Willeboordse