Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
The best way to get the most out of your experience at the Farmers’ Market is to befriend the farmers you are buying from!
As you get to know these kind folks growing your produce and meat, and crafting your cheeses and bakery goods, you better understand where your food is coming from. Not only that, but as they recognize you as a regular customer who truly appreciates their hard work, you can often get better deals on their products.
There is an art to shopping at the Farmers’ Market, and mastering that art is an adventure in itself! It all starts with asking the right questions…
This past weekend found me a the Farmer’s Market in Boulder, Colorado. Whenever my family visits a new city, we like to visit their local Farmers’ Market. It was our 9th day of vacation, and we were on our way out of Colorado and back home to Kansas City. We figured the market may be small, as the climate in Colorado is still a bit cooler than in Kansas City, and so we expected to just make a quick stop, meet up with Grayson’s Aunts one last time, snap some photos for the blog, and be on our way.
What we didn’t know was that on that particular day, the city was holding its annual “Boulder Creek Festival” a three-day event taking up the entire massive downtown with vendors, food, rides, music, performers, and other festivities along with the regular Farmer’s Market.
After a half hour of searching for a parking space with no success, Grayson dropped me off with my wallet and camera so I could begin perusing the market. There was no fresh produce in sight, only tents setup for Verizon, Horizon Organics, T-Shirt vendors and Indian art. I finally found these two kind folks selling hemp skin care products, and my first question of the day was for them, and an unusual one for me to ask at the market; I asked them: “So….where is the actual Farmers’ Market?”
They were very helpful, and pointed me in the right direction, which I turned towards and walked in for several blocks before finally coming across spears of fresh asparagus and bins of salad greens confirming my arrival at the actual Farmers’ Market.
Finding the Farmers’ Market isn’t usually a problem, you can use sources such as these to find one near you. but once you arrive, there are some very important questions that you should be asking while shopping at the Farmers’ Market.
The very first and most important question you will want to ask your farmers is this:
Approach your farmer as a person; better yet, as your neighbor! Say Hello, ask how they’re doing, and ask them their name!
Be completely honest with them, and tell them if you are new to the market or looking to learn how to cook with fresh ingredients. Just be friendly–that is, after all, how you make friends, and that is exactly what we are aiming to do!
Early on in our first year of shopping at the Farmers’ Market, I picked up a seedling from one farmer and gave it a strong sniff, then asked the farmer what it was. He was kind, but did give me a bit of a dumbfounded look. “That’s lettuce.” Yup–it sure was! Plain old green lettuce. Sure, I was a bit embarrassed, but I learned what baby lettuce looks like!
Don’t be afraid to look silly. If you see a fruit or vegetable you’ve never seen or cooked with before, approach the farmer and ask them what it is. Embrace being a student!
Not only that, but also ask them how they personally enjoy cooking and eating it. Show invested interest in their product, and why they themselves love it! This hands-on approach is how shopping at and cooking from the Farmers’ Market becomes instinct.
This past weekend, Grayson’s Aunt and I stepped under a canopy with beautiful bins of exotic looking salad greens. We struck up a friendly conversation with the farmer, who also owned a restaurant down the street, and left a few minutes later with new knowledge of what “Perpetual Spinach” is, what it tastes like, and how to grow it! Education at the Farmers’ Market is limitless–if you simply ask questions!
Farmers have a very good understanding of their crops, the weather, and what products they will have available throughout the season. Ask your farmers what they expect to have in coming weeks to help you plan for shopping, cooking, and eating.
This question will work much better in your favor if you already have an established relationship with a particular farmer.
Once you become a familiar face to your farmers by visiting them regularly and asking questions, you’ll find that they will begin greeting you differently–like a friend; like a familiar face among the crowd. They see that you appreciate and enjoy what they are growing, and will often cut you deals because of your loyalty.
Sometimes all it takes is asking for a discounted price. I am not very good at that, and often leave the asking up to my husband; but either way, farmers are usually more than willing to cut a deal when they recognize you and know that you’ll be back next week for more!
I leave this question at the bottom of my list because I really don’t find it to be the most important. When I began shopping at Farmers’ Markets, I was always asking the farmers how they grew their plants or fed their livestock. And I found that to some of them, this almost seemed to come off as offensive.
I could tell they were used to the question, and had knowledgeable answers; but the thing is, these farmers take great pride in the beautiful, delicious, nourishing foods that they grow! They don’t want to taint their products with hormones or pesticides as much as we don’t want that stuff in our food!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!