Confession time: I sometimes get nervous about visiting a new market.
At my favorite markets, I know the vendors by name. I buy plants from them every spring and confess my failures with last years’ tender perennials when I come back to buy another and try again. I know which vendor has the juiciest tomatoes, who has the best herbs, and who will have ready-to-eat treats. My favorite markets are a home away from home.
Going to a new market is like going to a party where I don’t know anyone.
There are great things about parties where we don’t know anyone, though. The party is full of future friends, a sea of possibility. We have conversations about new things, and have new experiences. If we can overcome our nervousness and get out, it will probably be a great experience that becomes a fond memory. With this in mind, I ignored my nervousness as my dog and I headed out to Mission Farm and Flower Market on Saturday morning, and I thought I’d share my tips for how to have a great time on your first visit to a new farmers’ market.
How to Meet Your New Farmers’ Market
- Bring a “hostess gift”
This isn’t really necessary, but, if you can, it’s a gesture the vendors will appreciate and giving a gift is a great way to start a new friendship. I grow sage in my garden, and this time of year, there are dozens upon dozens of purple flower stems. I brought a handful of stems, and gave one to each of the vendors. I wasn’t sure it was a great gift for the flower vendor, but they were very gracious anyways!
- Take a deep breath and take it all in
Take the time to cruise through the market, meet all the vendors, and get a feel for what types of items each one specializes in. Produce vendors often carry similar items, especially if they are local growers – check them all out, and ask about the speciality items that differentiate them from their market neighbors.
- Be open to new experiences
Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Mission Farm and Flower Market, so I brought my pup with me, and one of my favorite parts of my visit was watching my pup watch the goats. My dog gets excited about other dogs and loves getting attention from humans, but she had clearly never seen goats before. She couldn’t tear her attention away from these critters she’d never seen before, and even walked into a pole because she was so fascinated by the goats!
- Bring a friend
My dog is my favorite “meeting new friends” buddy, but, if the market doesn’t allow dogs, get a human friend to go with you. It’s more fun than going to the grocery store together, and you can even plan to cook a meal after market, featuring all of your tasty market finds.
- Don’t forget the reason you’re there
Spend your whole market budget, no matter how big or small. Every dollar we spend is a vote for the world we want to live in, and, of course, we all want to live in a world with more farmers’ markets. While you’re shopping, tell your vendor to “keep the change”…they’re probably charging less than their product is worth to compete with factory farmers, and every dollar counts.
Whether your budget is $2 or $20, you’ll find a delicious treat to take home at any of KC’s amazing Farmers’ Markets.
Farmers’ markets are like friends – you can never know too many. Get out there and meet all of our area’s farmers’ markets this season!