In Sustainable Farming

Supporting Local Growers

Farmers markets are great. It’s a way we all can find natural, locally-sourced produce that supports local farmers. At The FruitGuys Community Fund we get to interact with independent farmers across the country and learn how local markets sustain them financially. Now that Summer is in full swing, this seemed the perfect time to talk about farmers markets and etiquette. Can you haggle? Is sampling okay?

Farmers Market Etiquette

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Before You Buy

Sampling can be a stressful experience with the person who grew the produce standing next to you. Even so, don’t feel like you can’t or shouldn’t sample. After all, that’s the beauty of a farmers market. Typically there are freshly cut samples ready for shoppers. Be considerate — take one, don’t use your hands but the toothpicks provided, etc. If you don’t see any samples, ask. Most farmers are happy to have you enjoy a taste as you consider a purchase. The point here is to feel free to sample things and speak to the farmer about what you liked and didn’t like. The feedback is useful to them. If you don’t like what you’re tasting, be courteous and respectful. Most local farmers know each others; they might be able to point you in the direction of something you’d prefer.

You Don’t Have To Buy

This is a related point to the above. You don’t have to buy something if you’ve tried it. If you try something and you don’t want to buy it, fine. Don’t feel obligated. Thank the farmer and move on. Well… unless you’ve tried too many…

Engage with the Farmers

They’re at the market to talk to their customers. It’s not like walking into a big box grocery store and striking up a conversation about cheese with the person behind the deli counter. If you have a question, ask it. If you bought something from your last farmers market visit, mention it. Farmers markets aren’t just about selling products for the farmers, it’s a valuable way of getting information from their customers. Take your time to wander around and talk to people.

Pricing & Negotiating at Farmers Markets

The prices are probably very different than your local supermarket. Some items may be more expensive while others and are similar or a bit less. Pricing depends upon many factors. Most likely you’re buying directly from the grower. While there’s no middle man, farmers must make a living. There are many factors in setting price – including growing costs, market competition, etc. That doesn’t mean haggling is impossible or frowned upon. Just be respectful and courteous. If you want to make a large purchase, or you see something might be a bit overripe, make an offer. But don’t be offended if the farmer says no!

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Don’t be a Rotten Tomato

Remember browsing and buying produce at a Farmers Market is a relaxed thing. If you’re in a rush, you’re in the wrong place. Courteousness means:

  • Be aware of others around you. That means don’t bump fellow shoppers with pull carts, strollers and shopping bags to make your way through a crowd.
  • Avoid stops in the middle of an aisle, forcing others to go around you.
  • Wait patiently for your turn as farmers help other shoppers.
  • Take your trash with you and put it in the bins provided (nothing is more unappetizing than seeing someone’s empty coffee cup as you’re browsing beautiful organic produce).
  • Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.

If you follow these five etiquette tips, you’ll have a great time at any farmers market. And it will show that you’re really part of the community. Don’t fill up on too many free samples though! You won’t have room for dinner.

Love to support your local independent farmers? So do we! Help small farms across the country by getting involved.

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