In the peak of summer, there are multiple farmers' markets in Edmonton almost every day of the week! Even during the slower, colder months, a few markets are still going strong. Farmers' markets might seem daunting to those who don't frequent them. There's a ton of selection and it seems like every shopper knows exactly what they're looking for.
If you're a market newbie or if you just want to have the best experience possible, here are a few tried and true tips on shopping at your local market.
Be prepared with reusable shopping bags and cash!
Farmers' markets are all about shopping local and trying to reduce our carbon footprint by purchasing products that haven't traveled long distances. Many vendors, especially fruit and veggie producers like us, sell most of our fresh produce loose. We have plastic bags at the ready for your convenience, but we are very aware of just how many plastic bags we go through.
While they are extremely convenient for a lot of people, we encourage everyone to bring (at least) their own shopping bags. Disposable produce bags are even better! Think about it -- you don't really need a plastic bag to hold all our apples together. They will most likely be fine loose at the bottom of your bag.
In terms of payment, most markets will have an ATM at the ready. In fact, lots of vendors have a debit/credit machine as well. But by bringing cash, you're more likely to stick to your budget. You'll also avoid long lineups for the ATM. You'd hate to be stuck in line as you watch your favourite vendor sell out of their best products.
Markets are at their busiest around 10 am - 1 pm. It's a good idea to come a little earlier than that. You'll beat the rush and can take your time browsing through the aisles.
Vendors will also have the best selection. As we have fresh produce, we try and keep them cool throughout the day in our refrigerated trucks. We also try and bring as much as we think we'll need... although we occasionally sell out of fan favourites like Honey Crisp apples by mid-afternoon.
Get there in the morning and you'll also have time to chat with the people behind the stand, which leads us to our next point...
Try new things!
Those samples are there for a reason! It always surprises us how many customers are shy to grab a sample while they shop. Perhaps they're just being polite, but they might be missing out on a new favourite fruit! We encourage everyone to taste everything that's being sampled. If you're especially curious about a fruit that you don't see a sample for... don't hesitate to ask! We'd be more than happy to cut up some slices for you.
Part of the fun of a farmers' market is discovering new favourites. Down each aisle, there are vendors that are just waiting for you to try their baking, smoked meat, or kombucha, so go ahead and indulge.
Social media and online exposure have changed how we interact with each other. We rely on our social media to inform customers about new fruit and important company info. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are now how a majority of new customers discover local vendors. If you've had a great experience or are really impressed with something you've bought, share the news! The farmers' market and the vendor will be very grateful for the online exposure.
It's also a good item to follow your favourite markets and vendors on social media, even in the off-season! The farmers' markets often run fun contests and events where you could win some awesome prizes! Our social media pages are also where you'll find out when your favourite fruit will be making its seasonal debut.
See? Easy stuff! Hope to see you at the next farmers' market. Make sure you say hello!