One of my favorite times of the year is fast approaching—farmers market season! I love to stroll through the produce selections and take my time making purchases. The great thing about farmers markets is the large variety of fresh produce available. In my community, the farmers market is open twice a week. Typically, the same sellers are present and parked in the same locations every week, making it easy to find my favorite produce. I consider my local farmer an expert on how my food is grown! I ask questions like if he grows organic and what type of chemicals are used on his crops. Since I’ve been visiting farmers market for years, I’ve come across some great ways to save!
1. Arrive early for the best savings
I’m normally a Saturday late sleeper, but knowing that I can get fresh produce for cheap if I wake up early gets me out of bed quickly. You’ll get the best selection of fruits and vegetables if you arrive early. You get your choice of the prime, best-looking products before they are all picked over. Getting there early also ensures that the heat doesn’t affect the produce.
2. Show up with cash
You don’t want to miss a bargain because you have the wrong type of payment. Since products may be sold by the piece or by the pound, be sure to carry a roll of quarters, too. If you find that quarters are a hot commodity for the seller, ask for an extra squash or tomato if you pay only in quarters!
3. Bring your own shopping bags
Remember, the seller is looking to make money, not spend more money, so they may not have packaging to help you carry your items home. You may have to use a flimsy plastic bag or even your hands. That makes carrying two dozen ears of corn a bit difficult.
4. Purchase in bulk for seasonal items
We have a local strawberry farm down the road and you can pick your own or buy them already picked. Buying in bulk is a great option if you make preserves or can your produce. Chances are the provider will cut you a deal if you buy more so their product won’t go to waste.
5. Strike up a friendship for additional savings
At our local market, hubby made friends with one particular farmer because he grows our favorite corn on the cob! The farmer provided us with his card and contacts us when he has an abundance of corn. Then all we have to do is make a trip to the farm and pick it up! Another great tip is that if your favorite supplier runs out of produce before you’ve had a chance to purchase yours, he may give you extra the next time or make great substitution deals!
6. If you sample, be prepared to purchase
Don’t plan to make a meal off of the samples. If your farmer has samples of fresh cucumbers for you to taste, be prepared to purchase one from him. His marketing strategy is to tempt you with taste, so reward him for his efforts. Chances are he will throw in extra when he weighs your produce purchase.
7. Compare prices before purchasing
As I said, I’m not usually an early bird and sometimes get to the market late. I used to get a little frustrated whenever my hubby wanted to tour the entire produce section before deciding on purchases. Now I know better—this is an excellent way to save money. Visit with the farmers, check out their selection and prices, then decide on the best deal for you. One seller may offer five ears of corn for $1, another may offer a dozen for $2.
8. Keep haggling to a minimum
In our community, farmland is abundant and we support our local farmers. When you’re negotiating your best deal, remember to compare grocery store produce prices with farmers market prices. Also remember the amount of effort your neighborhood farmer has put into producing the crop you see before you. Both you and the seller will be winners with the transaction because you are supporting your local community and the farmer is supporting his family!
9. Change up your purchases
Consider purchasing items you wouldn’t typically buy at the grocery store. I only purchase blueberries and blackberries when they’re on sale at the grocery store. At the farmers market, I can get fresh berries for about a third of what I pay in the grocery store. That’s a stock-up price. Also, if you see a product that you have never tried before, make a small purchase and treat your taste buds!
10. Take your farmer’s advice
Your farmer is the expert grower, so ask him how he loves to prepare his own produce to eat. When I was growing up, we had a small vegetable garden. I’m a pro at cooking squash, beans, potatoes, but we never grew asparagus or sweet potatoes so I’m less familiar with them. Chances are your farmer has eaten everything that he grows and he has a few tips he can share with you about how to get the best results for you and your family to enjoy.
This is a post by Tammy from North Carolina.