Since I first started hearing about them, I’ve loved the idea of farmer’s markets (in fact, my very first post was after a farmer’s market trip). The actual reality of them isn’t always what I’ve expected, though. The first farmer’s markets that I went to were on Cape Cod, MA, where I’m from. I was disappointed by the largest one, which had little int he way of produce, and a lot in the way of baked goods and crafts. Not that I have anything agains those things, but it wasn’t what I expected. Plus, the prices were higher than I expected, and then larger farms in the area didn’t vend there, as they were all up at markets in Boston. One of the smaller ones that I went to had all of one vendor, who was selling tomatoes and peaches- and that was it.
Then I moved to New Haven, and I found a farmer’s market I really liked. It was still expensive, but there was a good mix of produce and crafts/baked goods. Unfortunately, I was almost always working when it was held, but I was able to get over every now and then!
Recently, I’ve been going to the farmer’s market in Red Bank, NJ. It’s where I’ve been able to go to The Cinnamon Snail, but there’s so much more! The first time I went, it was raining- but most of the produce vendors (and The Cinnamon Snail) were still there. Awesome deals on local produce- especially blueberries! (There’s apparently a glut of blueberries in NJ this year). This farmer’s market was by far the biggest one I’ve been to! (Well, I’ve walked through the Haymarket in Boston, but I haven’t been there to shop, so it doesn’t count). Red Bank is a great mix of produce, crafts, baked goods and other food. As the popularity of farmer’s markets increases, as does the demand for local food, I’m sure that many of the other ones that I’ve been to will continue to grow, but now I’m glad to have found an awesome one!
I was trying to get a shot of the ice cream stand next to the bread and behind the ladies standing in line for The Cinnamon Snail. It’s ice cream, made to order, frozen with liquid nitrogen- and available in vegan flavors!
So what kinds of things should you know before you go?
- Bring cash! Vendors most likely take credit cards, though you might want to check out your local farmer’s market’s website to see if they do.
- Bring bags! Ones that you don’t mind getting messy- after all, the produce has just been pulled from the ground, or may be wet. Smaller bags for loose produce would be nice, too.
- Know what’s in season in your area. You’re not going to get good deals on the things that aren’t in abundance. In NJ, right now you’ll get great deals on blueberries and corn!
- At the beginning of the day, you have the best selection. If you want something that is likely to see out- like fresh baked baguettes, you’d best go early.
- At the end of the day, you’ll get great deals on things that the farmers haven’t sold and want to get rid of. I remember once walking away from the New Haven market with two stalks of edamame, just because I happened to be looking at the at the end of the day!
- Don’t be scared if it rains- the farmers have to sell their produce rain or shine. There might be less in the way of non-produce vendors, however.
- Farmer’s markets are a kid/family-friendly place!
A nice farmer’s market is an awesome way to spend a morning or an afternoon. If you haven’t tried it and there’s one near you, what are you waiting for? 🙂
Of course, I hear there’s a pretty awesome farmer’s market in Portland, right by where the conference will be…