It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Farms and farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and baked goods. But what if you’ve never been to a farm or a farmers’ market? How do you know where to start?
First of all – good for you! Asking questions is the first step. We’re thrilled that you’re interested, not only because it means your meals will be chock-full of local flavour but also because when you shop at farms and farmers’ markets, you’re supporting local businesses.
1. Call ahead
Before you head out, call the farm or market to confirm details like hours of operation, admission fee and current information (like whether a farm is picked out of strawberries, for example).
2. Dress for the weather
If you can, plan your trip for early in the morning or late afternoon when the hot summer sun loses its edge. If you can’t, dress for the weather – bring sunscreen if it’s sunny or boots and a raincoat if it’s rainy. “You’re going to be outside and you WILL get dirty,” Cathy Bartolic says. “So be sure you are dressed for the great outdoors.”
3. Bring a cooler with ice packs
A cooler will keep your produce fresh as you shop around or stop to visit the farm animals! And it’s an absolute must have if you plan on purchasing fresh cuts of meat.
4. Bring cash
Some farms and farmers’ markets still operate on a cash-only basis so be sure to pack some for your shopping trip. (Trust us, you’ll wish you had when you get to the fresh-baked treats!)
5. Get directions in advance
GPS doesn’t always work properly in rural locations. Before hitting the road, check the website as most farms and markets will provide directions if GPS is shaky in their location. Cathy recommends having clear directions or bringing a map before embarking on your journey.
6. Leave your pets at home
Unless the farm explicitly says pets are welcome, leave yours at home. Rebecca Landman notes that it can be stressful for the farm animals to be introduced to pets they aren’t used to. Our sweet dogs can chase farms animals, and it’s hard to say how the animals will react. Nobody wants your pupper to get hurt!
7. Don’t overindulge in the samples
If you’re visiting a Pick-Your-Own farm, check their sampling policy and please don’t make a meal of it. The crop you’re picking is the farmer’s product and they depend on it to make their living.
8. Follow the rules
When folks are visiting the farm, rules are in place to keep everybody safe. Stay in the public areas and don’t sneak off to explore…no matter how tempted you are! These are working farms with heavy equipment and animals; when you follow the rules, everybody stays safe.
9. Talk to the farmers
Ask questions about the products – especially ask for cooking tips! With every purchase of ground chicken at the farmers’ market, Rebecca gives out recipes for chicken burgers and chicken meatballs so shoppers know how best to prepare the meat.
10. Come hungry
Whether you are visiting a farm or a farmers’ market, you’ll find tasty treats to enjoy! From home-baked goods to ready-made meals, you’ll have a smorgasbord at your fingertips when you visit!