Maybe you’ve visited a farmers market before, or perhaps you’re a newbie and don’t know what to expect. Does this sound like you? Then you’re in luck — farmers markets are some of the most fun and rewarding summertime destinations, but to have the best time and make it worth your while, there are a few tricks that the oldtimers swear by.
- Arrive early. Interesting or valuable crops sell out quickly, so go early to get the best selection and to avoid the crowd that inevitably comes late. On the other hand, going later in the day may score you a good deal if a vendor wants to get rid of some items.
- Bring cash. While some vendors may accept checks or credit/debit cards, cash is always king. Who knows, you may even get a better deal if you pay with cash. Bring an assortment of bills, with a higher count of smaller bills. Avoid handing a vendor a $100 bill; it may wipe out their petty cash to make change for you.
- Remember your bags. While most vendors have plastic bags, it’s a good idea to bring reusable market bags or even a small cart. Produce gets heavy pretty quickly, and the last thing you want to do is leave early when you’re having fun.
- Bring a notepad. I like to jot down notes on tips I pick up from growers — gardeners are very generous people, and you’ll hear advice and tips frequently shared by vendors and customers alike.
- Reuse containers. If you’ve visited before and plan to stop by the same vendors, it’s a courtesy to bring the container back to the vendor. Some vendors (those who sell eggs, for example) even accept cartons from a different store, helping them to keep costs down. It’s not expected, but it’s definitely a thoughtful gesture.