As interest and attendance in farmer’s markets has grown, so has what the markets offer. Gone are the days of your farmer’s market being just a place to get fresh fruits and vegetables. We asked Thea Upham, Program Director for Community Access at Farm Fresh Rhode Island, to share with us some tips on how to get the most out of your local markets.
There’s More Than Just Food
There’s More Than Fruits and Veggies
You can get a variety of cheeses, breads and pastries. There are cool new fermented products like kimchi and sauerkraut, salsas and lots of things that you can use together to put towards a meal. A lot of people think, “oh I can only get a few things, then I have to go to the grocery store after.” Farmer’s markets now have a variety of products that you can use so it can really be your one-stop shop.
Lots of times markets are placed where there are other things to do. There might be playgrounds, a pool or rec center. You see a lot of picnicking happening, which is really great. You need to subscribe to your community farmer’s market newsletter. Lots of the farmer’s market managers have their own newsletter and they’ll be able to tell you when events are happening.
Talk to Your Farmers
It’s fun to have that one-on-one experience with the vendors so they can give you the story behind their food. They are always excited to talk about it. Usually lots of farmers end up cooking what doesn’t sell at the market, so talking to farmers and vendors about their recipes is always a lot of fun. They’re cooking what they grow so you can get really specific recipes. You can troubleshoot your own recipes with them, and get some good tips and tricks. They’re always excited to talk because they’re invested in it.
Be on the Foodie Frontlines
Farmer’s markets are a great place for small businesses that don’t have a brick-and-mortar yet to test out their products. They get real, direct feedback and you can get some really great inside scoops on how businesses are developing, where they might be going and get that cool new product, like Jamaican beef patties from Patois Catering. He was a vender at the wintertime market and did really well. He had one type of patty and expanded with fish and vegetarian options because he heard [customer] feedback. You get those fresh, hot off the press products. For a full list of the more than 40 farmers markets in Rhode Island, visit FarmFreshRI.org