With summer in full swing, your farmers market is offering a fabulous array of local fruits and veggies. Wherever you live around Metro Vancouver, there is a market near you. While markets vary in size from small neighbourhood pocket markets to the massive Saturday market at Trout Lake, they all share one thing in common: they bring farmers and foodies together in one spot. Whether your local market is big or small, though, your first visit can be a little bit overwhelming. We recently paid a visit to Coquitlam’s Spirit Square Market, which runs Fridays from 3:00-7:00pm all summer long, to get some tips on making the most of your visit to your local farmers market.
1. Make a List Before You Go
Have you ever gone to the store for milk, only to come home with everything but milk? Annoying, right? The farmers market is no different than the store, so if there’s something you really need, make note of it before you go. In the same vein, if you’re stocked full of lettuce or carrots or kale, make note of that, too, so that you don’t end up with too much of one thing in your fridge.
Lots of markets have children’s activities, like crafts, face-painting and story times. If you have your kids with you, take advantage of those activities. One parent can keep an eye on the little ones while they do their thing, and the other one will be able to shop in peace. Plus, your kids will be getting a chance to experience the local harvest in a more hands-on way than they can at the grocery store.
3. Scout Before You Buy
Before you make your first purchase, take a walk around the market and see what’s on offer. It’s really frustrating to buy a bunch of produce, only to discover that two stalls down there’s something better. Since the vendors and the produce vary week-to-week, you never know what you’re going to find, so taking a few minutes to see what’s on offer when you arrive pays off.
4. Talk to the Farmers Market Vendors
The best part of visiting a farmers market is that you have the opportunity to talk to the people growing your food. They’ll be only too happy to share what’s coming into season, what’s going out of season, and what’s at peak ripeness. They’re also ready with cooking and storage tips, so that you know what to do with those garlic scapes once you get them home. If they’re out of something you need today find out if they’ll be back next week. If you’re hoping to do some preserving, pre-order the produce you’ll need. They’re there to help.
5. Buy the Heaviest Stuff Last
If you have a stroller with a good basket you’re set with your own farmers market shopping cart. If you don’t, though, you’ll be carrying your haul around in your arms. If you want to buy a flat of blueberries or a bunch of frozen meat, save that for the end, so that you don’t have to schlep it around the whole market. It’s a little thing, but it can make a big difference to your visit.
As we said, there are lots of farmers markets all across Metro Vancouver. Take the time to visit a few of them. See what’s on offer at each, and feel the different vibe. Some people like big markets, and some people like small markets. Some people like to zip in and out, and some people like to make a morning of it. If you try a few, you’ll be sure to find a farmers market that’s a good fit for you.
Coquitlam Farmers Market
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.