The Farmers’ Market: Helpful Hints and Etiquette Tips

We support our readers with carefully chosen product recommendations to improve life at home. You support us through our independently chosen links, many of which earn us a commission.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s July and most farmers’ markets across the nation are in full swing. I just returned from a visit to the lovely Marin County Farmers’ Market in California, which besides being lovely was also rather hot and jam-packed. It occurred to me that we all could use a few helpful hints on how to navigate the crowds and share the market.

Here’s a few basic tips for farmers market etiquette. What helpful hints can you share?

Make it easier on you
• If you want to avoid the crowds and have the best selection, go when the market is just opening.
• If you want to get the best deals, go close to closing time.
• Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and/or a wide brimmed hat, bring water.
• Remember your cloth bags and bring smaller spare plastic bags as well (many Bay Area FM are going plastic bag free).
• If you tend to overspend, set a budget for yourself and only bring that amount to the market, plus your driver’s license or ID. Leave your wallet at home.
• Put your money in an easily accessible (to you!) pocket and if you did bring a wallet, keep it tucked away in a safe place.
• Take a quick stroll around the market and peruse the goods before you buy. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a pound of blueberries only to find them for $1 cheaper a few stalls down.
• If your market doesn’t offer at least a few chairs and a table for a resting spot, consider requesting them. Most markets have an info table where you can get more information.
• Get to know your farmers, talk to them, build relationships.
• Don’t hurry. Farmers’ markets are for strolling.
• Have fun! Explore! Try one new thing each time you go!

Make it easier on the farmers
• Get to know your farmers but don’t hold them up with endless chatter if their booth is busy. If you want time for a chat, try coming earlier.
• Don’t over-handle the goods.
• Pay attention during your transaction.
• Not all farmers want to bargain, especially in the beginning hours of the market. That said, some do, so if your interested, make an offer but don’t push it.
• Try samples if they’re obviously being offered and ask if they’re not, but don’t just start eating from the display.

Make it easier on others
• If you are roaming in a large group, be mindful that you take up a lot of space.
• Try to avoid stopping in the middle of the aisle and chatting, thus creating a traffic jam.
• Don’t overly engage the farmers at a busy booth with questions and sample requests. If you want a lot of attention, go early but don’t make others wait as you sample six kinds of plum slices.
• Be aware of the space and rhythms of movement around you.
• Bringing the dog, the baby in a stroller, two toddlers and Grandma with you to the market is a sweet thing. Really it is! But be sure you can keep the entourage contained.

PS: An excellent book on what it’s like to be a vendor at a Farmer’s Market is called Blithe Tomato by Mike Madison (Deborah’s brother.) His wry and witty observations may help to guide your behavior.

(Image: Dana Velden)


Now on Kitchn