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When my children were young (around 8-10 years old) I would give them each a few dollars and let them go shopping for their own goodies at the Farmers market.
We usually set a few ground rules like they had to get at least enough of one item to share with every one else, and they had to ask questions when they made their purchases to find out something new about whatever they were buying, like suggestions for ways to prepare it or the best way to tell if it is ripe, how long will it keep in the fridge etc.
They enjoyed learning about the foods they eat, it made them feel important to share the things they had learned with their siblings, they seemed to be more willing to try new things if they got to make the decision about what it would be by themself. They usually got at least a few items that they could stash in one of the crisper drawers in a bag with their name on it for their own personal snacking. But also they got to where they got a big kick out of planning surprise dishes to try out on their Dad and Me!
They learned quickly that if they pooled the money they could sometimes get better deals and before too long decided that it was more fun to get a whole bushel of something and put things up in the freezer to keep longer. They enjoyed reminiscing in January about the strawberries we were eating, that baby sis had bargained for with her winsom ways from a usually gruff farmer that she made friends with!
My "babies" are 25, 26, 28 & 30 now but they still talk about how they learned the best way to pick out corn on the cob or which melon is going to be the sweetest. We often had a garden in the yard when they were growing up but never had enough room to grow everything we wanted to, so they learned just how useful the Farmers Markets always are.
Each of their significant others has mentioned to me at one time or other that they are so impressed with my kids knowledge of cooking, gardening, bargain shopping or the like. I always have to say they didn't learn it from me, I just tried to teach them how to go about finding the answers for their questions, even when sometimes they didn't know they had a question! I'm a strong believer in the notion that every experience in life is a learning opportunity and I always try to get the most out of every opportunity that I possibly can. If my kids learned that then I feel they learned a lot!
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The farmer's market is a great place to find both produce and unique crafts. It is also a wonderful place to take children and let them try new veggies and fruit. Give them a little money to pick out something to eat. Every time we go, our kids are allowed to pick out a few things to bring home and eat, although most of the time there isn't much left when we get home. :) Plus, it is an experience that will likely have them going to the market when they are adults too.
Finding a farmers market in your area may be as easy as checking the local newspaper. Otherwise, keep your eyes open while you're driving around town. You may spot a sign for an upcoming or weekly farmers market in your travels. If you have no luck with the paper or on the road, ask around! Somebody may know of a great local farmers market for you to discover!
Most farmers markets aren't just for farmers anymore. A lot of markets are open to all sorts of crafters. You'll find fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, jams and jellies, home baked breads and pies, hand made candy, flowers and plats, and even art, pottery, and other crafts.
Keep in mind that this isn't necessarily like a flea market - the prices may be a little higher because everything is fresh and hand made. I've bought amazingly soft hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn at farmers markets; the finished product was totally worth the price.
Some other tips for enjoying the farmers market:
All the tasty, fresh, summer fruits and vegetables are available now at your local farmers' markets. I think it's a great idea for us to shop at these markets and support our local farmers. The prices are usually very reasonable, and the produce is fresh. Buy a little extra produce when you see a real bargain to can, freeze, or share with a friend or neighbor.
By Ness from Lakeview, NY
Visit a farmer's market this summer and buy some really fresh seasonal produce. Ask for tastes of anything you are unfamiliar with.
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I am just wondering how I can know if I am getting a good deal at my Farmer's Market? We only have one available near me from the first Saturday in May until the last Saturday in October. Saturdays from 9am-2pm.
Anyway, sometimes I find things that aren't in my local store and I wonder if they are a good deal or not. Like green beans today for $2/lb. I haven't seen any in my local stores for a long time. The farmer said originally that they were half price but I doubt that it was. I am just getting into canning and I don't want to end up spending more for canning stuff that I could get in the store - you know? But then again everything is going up in the stores as well... can you tell that I am confused?
Thank you so much for your help!
Nikkiev from Piqua, OH
About all you can do is actually compare prices. I doubt if it's possible to purchase green beans, for example, and home can them as cheaply as you can buy canned green beans in the grocery. The real advantage to farmer's market produce is the quality and freshness. In the urban area of Ohio where I live, the prices are typically higher than grocery store prices for similar fresh produce, but the quality is better. I don't know about rural areas, but for me the days of fresh farm produce "bargains" are a thing of the past.
Nikkiev, $2 a pound for fresh green beans seems very high. If you are planning on canning beans...why? After you figure in the costs of jars, lids, a pressure canner, etc, PLUS the cost of the produce, you could afford the best canned vegetables in the store. Cost-wise and time-wise, it just isn't worth it. Now, TASTE as an occasional treat, I buy fresh and cook it for the table. There IS a difference in taste. But if you buy fresh and can it, what's the difference?
Most everyone who can do it so because they have a garden and this way they can "save" their over-production for the winter months. I just can't see where you'd be ahead canning purchased produce. You can get some darn good green beans in the can for under a $1 per pound and you don't have to slave over a hot stove. Sorry. But canning just doesn't make a lot of "cents" to me.
Sometimes, the best value isn't about money. If you are getting produce that is locally grown, you are getting value. The product hasn't been trucked thousands of miles, it's fresh, you can talk to the farmer who grew it.... nothing in a grocery store will compare to something just picked!
I've been selling every Saturday at a local market for the past 15 years (pottery) Here's what I've noticed in the way of food & food prices at Saturday Markets:
1) Most of the time the fruit & veggies will be nearly the same price at the Saturday Markets as the grocery stores, but what you get is FRESH picked veggies & fruit... The produce is usually picked on that morning or the day before & unlike at the grocery stores, it's not shipped in from South America or from the other side of the world or U.S. These local farmers have kept their land & not sold it for condos to be built on. The farmers they have driven to the Farmers Saturday Market from a place fairly close, so you are helping to conserve fuel because, again the food is not coming from across the US or from another country, it's grown locally so it only needs to be transported locally.
* Also, by buying locally, you are supporting your local & state economy, which is something you can feel really good about. These farmers & venders are working hard (usually with no health insurance) & not collecting food stamps or other help from the state. Sometimes they come home with enough money to easily make it through the week & sometimes not. Also, what you DON'T see is all the work hassle of the setting-up & breaking down their booth, then unloading the fruit in cold storage that evening. My fair is finished at 3:PM, but I'm not packed up & ready to go home until 7:PM (because my stuff is so fragile)
2) You can talk to the grower or one of their employees directly & ask them how they grew their product & if it's not organic, then what exactly did they use to keep the bugs off.
3) The apples & other veggies & fruit are not waxed, so you can much more easily wash off any germs or chemicals.
4) This produce is lovingly grown & picked... less chance of salmonella & e.coli.
5) You can buy a large box of fruit or veggies & get a discount, just ask.
6) At the end of the day you can buy bruised or "not as fresh" items at a discount because they won't last till the next fair.
7) The very best deal is with flowers because they were JUST picked (either early that morning or the night before) & they are SUPER fresh & will last usually a week longer than store-bought or florist-bought flowers, because the store-bought flowers usually have to be shipped from another country (several days) to a warehouse (where it can sit for several days) to the store or florist where it sits (several days) until someone buys it. So you can see why the flowers will usually last much longer when purchased at a Farmers Market.
8) With Bread, Cheeses, Nuts & canned or frozen Fish, etc: The prices will most likely be a bit higher priced than you may be used to in the grocery store because they will be of the highest quality & are usually organic. You are buying a product lovingly made in small batches, with each ingredient being the very best.
9) Most times these Venders & Farmers are open to bartering, so, for example, if you happen to be a woodworker, maybe you could trade your skills to make them stands for the market (or whatever) in trade for a certain amount of veggies throughout the summer, or if you make beautiful quilts, you could possibly barter a quilt for his wife for Christmas for his or (or her) produce or wares,,, & don't be offended if they turn you down. It never hurts to ask!
---> These venders hard working people, just trying to make ends meet, so don't try to ask for "deals" but no one ever minds if you ask: "Hey if I buy 3 or more cases of blueberries can I get 5 dollars off per case" or "Since it's the end of the day, do you have any bruised or 'not-great looking' fruit or veggies you'd like to sell"... My advice, buy in bulk whenever possible & remember even though you may not be getting the absolute best price around, you are certainly helping the environment & your local economy & you're getting the freshet produce you can buy (unless you grow it yourself) & we all know the difference between a vitamin rich home grown tomato doesn't compare to a store-bought one!
* If you want to know if a certain veggie is a "good deal" & you have a cell phone, then take the phone number of your local grocery store with you to the market & call them for a price check whenever you wonder if the deal is a good one or not... But always remember that if the prices are fairly close, obviously you should go for the freshest produce & that's usually something locally grown.
Where I live - $2 per pound for green beans is a very good price.
Wow! The prices are ridiculous. Last summer at the farm market I go to in PA, you could buy a bushel of green beans for $14.00. Just think how many jars you can-can at that price. I buy all my produce at Mason's Farm in PA. I live in Ohio.
Green beans at $2 a pound seems very high.
You can buy green beans already canned for about 40 cents a can less when on special. A fresh batch of green beans for a dinner may be worth it but certainly not to can at that price. Green beans require a pressure canning treatment and are costly to process. A few pots on your patio or balcony will yield you quite a few meals for the price of a dollars worth of seeds!
$1 a pound here lately.
I live in Fort Worth TX and the local Walmart had fresh green beans for $1.69 per pound in the produce department. This was in the past two weeks. Two summers ago a relative and I went to the Farmers Market and bought black eyed peas by the bushel to can. There was a lot of work and time that went into those black eyed peas. Not long after we canned those I saw a posting about a man who was assisting with shelling and canning peas. He stated that his peas were worth $20.00 per jar due to time, investments, and trouble. I agree. Taste is great but the investment is too great.
Nothing is better than fresh green beans and potatoes from the farmers market. I just went this morning and they were a little more expensive, but you are supporting hardworking locals and its FRESH!
No trouble in a few minutes of snapping and pressure cooking for a great summertime meal! Its a favorite in our house!
Nothing better than fresh green beans and potatoes. I just went this morning and yes, they may be a little more than WalMart, but you are supporting hard working locals and its FRESH! Just a few minutes snapping and in the pressure cooker for a great summer meal that is a favorite at our house every summer!
My half runner beans are well worth $2.00/lb.
If you want to breathe clean air and forestall global warming and support small farms and keep agribusiness from taking over our country, buy from your local farmers. The average American dinner plate represents over a thousand miles of transportation, including pesticides, fertilizer, etc. Your local farmer probably drives 20 miles and most likely uses locally produced compost.
What are some of the most fun things about a farmer's market? What draws you and your family there?
By Coreen from Rupert, ID
The fact that most everything is grown locally; (there are big warehouses there, where produce is shipped in daily; the farmers come in on a daily basis, and are in a different area.) The farmer's vegetables are fresher, and taste better, but sometimes you have to watch out; they'll put a gorgeous ear of corn half-opened for you to see, and think that this is what you are buying, and then when you get the corn home, it is nothing like what you thought you were getting.
Open up an ear or two in the actual bushel that you are buying. And the same with lots of other vegetables. That's mainly the reason that I grow a garden; I know what I'm getting. I like the U-Pick establishments too. Love them things, you pick it fresh, and freeze it immediately when you get home. And someone elses tractor does the work, because I don't own a tractor, or a tiller. Gardening is hard work!
I like the freshness of the product and the ability to haggle. Nothing like the taste of a bargain.
I like knowing the produce is grown nearby. I like the variety of produce and honey and baked goods and plants so I can shop for lots of things at once. I like talking to the vendors and asking questions about their stuff. I like the prices which are usually cheaper than the stores. I like helping independent sellers keep their business going. I like the old fashioned feeling of the open air market.
Knowing the produce, potted plants, crafts, etc are locally grown :-) Also, the prices are so reasonable and many merchants are willing to reduce prices on some items as it gets closer to the end of the day :-) I love seasonal foods that are so inexpensive at a Farmers Market and especially love raspberry season because can almost always get a full flat for just $5.00 and be able to freeze them for the winter months :-)
Our local chapter of Penn State Master Gardeners has a tent at the Farmers' Market. Each week they present talks, demos, and Q&A sessions on topics such as planting, fertilizing, garden pests, gourd growing and crafting, and much more. It's become a very popular attraction. --shoe
My area is extremely lucky to have the Community Action Program which every year distributes $40 in Farmer's Market vouchers to those who are eligible. One must have an income that is below a certain figure, so the vouchers allow us to "buy" the fresh fruits, veggies and honey that we couldn't otherwise afford. What a generous and terrific "draw" to the Farmer's Market! Thank you CAP!!
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Just last week we dropped by this roadside flower, fruit and veggie stand to get our fruit and veggies for the week and I spotted this lovely view.
I bought the lovely flowers there
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What fruits and veggies are in season now, that you can get cheaply or reasonably at the supermarket or at the farmer's market? Buying in-season produce, in large amounts, can save you money, as long as you can prepare and preserve it for future use. I use my freezer as much as possible to get the most out of in-season produce bargains.
I shop at the year-round farmers' market as well as the cash-and-carry stores, and the produce outlets, so sometimes I find good, cheap deals on produce in bulk quantities (like a case of produce). For example, asparagus and strawberries are on sale around here now. Here's what I did last year: I bought a case of asparagus at a good price. I then cleaned and blanched most of it, and froze it in quart freezer bags to use as my future side-dish vegetable for dinners. (I suppose you could preseason it, too, before freezing, with lemon-butter or even homemade white sauce.) Some of it I made into cream of asparagus soup (works well with other veggies, too), and then froze the soup in quart freezer bags. I laid the bags so they froze flat -- they store more easily that way. I used all this throughout the year, or gave some to friends and family who don't cook. Now I plan to do it all over again. Strawberries can be de-hulled and frozen for future desserts, such as strawberry shortcake, strawberry muffins, or frozen blender drinks. Sometimes I freeze the proper amounts of berries to make cooked jam later, when I have the time. Some people make strawberry "freezer jam". I have not done this myself, but maybe someone can contribute the recipe?
Just some suggestions. Enjoy all the good fruits and veggies!
- Ness - Lakeview, NY