Farm stands were once just quaint roadside attractions where we left our money in an honor box and helped ourselves to plump tomatoes and sweet summer corn. These days, many farm stands act as roadside attractions, offering up everything from entertainment to wine. Here are six reasons to brake for the next farm stand on your summer road trip.
1. You (sometimes) can pick your own produce.
Some farm stands offer the luxury of either picking your own produce or having pints, bushels, and pecks pre-picked and ready for purchase. Picking your own peaches is a wonderful way to stretch your legs from a long car ride or whittle away a summer afternoon. Plus, you can smell every single berry, apple, or peach for yourself before selecting.
2. You spend less money.
Farm stands generally have lower prices on their produce than farmers markets because they can sell a larger volume without paying for market fees, travel expenses, and labor. Although a farm stand may advertise their ripe blueberries or peaches, many also grow other produce for themselves and for their stand. Our favorite peach pit stop also sells sweet southern onions that we can snag for a song compared to their grocery store counterparts. Buy these in bulk and share them with friends, or preserve them for winter.
3. You might get some ice cream.
I have yet to witness a farm stand that isn't churning their produce into homemade ice cream. Even our local orchard churns apple and pear ice cream during the fall. Many also fold their fruits and vegetables into breads, biscuits, and doughnuts that taste distinctly of their time and place.
4. You can stock up on local specialties.
Muscadine wine is something you're unlikely to find outside a rural Southern farm stand, just as you're unlikely to find beach plum jelly outside of Cape Cod. Farm stands are known for their hoards of jams, jelly, pickles, preserves, relishes, and wine just as much as they are known for their produce. Always buy that odd little jar you see because, just like antiques, you may never see that vintage again.
5. You can pick up a dozen eggs.
Where there is a farm, there are eggs. When you get tired of shelling out $6, $7, or even $8 for a dozen eggs at the farmers market, head on out to the roadside farm stand.
6. You might find some extra goodies.
Local specialties beyond produce are also treasures of the farm stand. You can find barbecued meats, farm-made cheese, gorgeous pies, and homemade wine. Most farm stands have a picnic area where you can sit and enjoy your haul before or after picking, filling out the day without stepping foot in a corn maze.
What's your favorite reason to visit a farm stand?