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View Full Version : Farmers Markets - the boutiques of the produce world



VictoriaE
02-06-2006, 10:08 PM
I'm working on a query on the growth of farmers markets, why they are wonderful, and how we can continue to advocate them.

Have you been to a farmers market? Why or why not?

Do you choose to go to a farmers market instead of a grocery store? Why or why not?

What do you like best about farmers markets? What could be improved?

Maryn
02-07-2006, 12:52 AM
The farmer's markets here--there are several--tend to shaft newcomers. Bruised, even moldy stuff on the bottom of pre-packaged baskets of strawberries or tomatoes, like that. I suppose if I went repeatedly, I'd be a familiar face and get the good stuff, but I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment.

My grocery store has good produce, and I patronize farm stands and pick-your-own farms in season.

Maryn, who'd rather be a fruit than a vegetable

eldragon
02-07-2006, 01:07 AM
I wish I had some here.


In Europe, Farmer's Markets are everywhere.


Fresh fruit and vegetables ...........hopefully organically grown, on earth instead of in factories. Supporting the little guy instead of Walmart. What's not to like?

alleycat
02-07-2006, 03:48 AM
I work near a large downtown farmers market: http://www.nashvillefarmersmarket.org/

It has a large produce and flower selling area, an international market and a number of restaurants. It also hosts a flea market on certain weekends. I most go there mostly to have lunch but I often end up buying flowers and produce there. I especially enjoy it in spring when all the bedding plants are for sell, and also at mid-summer when the locally grown produce such as tomatoes are sold.

Oprah goes there sometimes when she's in town. Without James Frey!

ac

Peggy
02-07-2006, 05:07 AM
Do you choose to go to a farmers market instead of a grocery store? Why or why not? I like to go to the local farmers' market for a several reasons:

- produce that is grown locally and is in season

- varieties of fruits and vegetables that you can't find in the regular supermarket

- often lower prices (but you have to have an idea of what the going price is)

- local specialty food makers also ply their wares (sauces, breads, sausages, etc)

What could be improved?

The reason why I only go occasionally:

- the closest farmer's market is held once a week on Wednesday evenings, the second closest is on Friday afternoon. Often that just isn't convenient.

- the closest farmer's market has terrible parking. That becomes an issue when you are carrying 10 pounds of oranges or 5 different bags of vegetables and a large bunch of flowers. (I suppose I could solve that problem with a granny cart).

- the farmer's market only carries a subset of what I need. Since I can't do all of my grocery shopping there, it ends up being an extra trip. It's easier to buy vegetables at the same time I purchase a chicken and cereal than to make a separate trip.

historylass
02-07-2006, 11:21 AM
There is a farmers market across the road from where I live (in Australia). Each week, there are less and less sellers (I presume because less people go there). A friend said she stopped going because they were not any cheaper than the supermarket. I go occasionally, but not all the time. I used to think it was great, but now that there are fewer stalls it hardly seems worth my time. I don't think it is promoted very well. If it wasn't across the road from me, I'm not sure that I would not it existed.

L M Ashton
02-07-2006, 03:38 PM
Here in Sri Lanka, you can buy your produce, fish, chicken, beef, etc. either from grocery stores or from stalls or shops along the side of the road, or even out of the back of trucks or other temporary stands set up at the side of the road. There are also some areas labelled as a market that would be similar to the North American version of a farmer's market. It's not at all certain that the shops and stalls are selling their own produce. The temporary stands set up, however, are more likely to sell their own produce.

Still, there's no such thing as regulations on organic versus not, so claims can be made by anyone based on what they feel like.

We buy from the grocery stores. There's no difference in terms of in season/out of season and things are no better or no worse from one place to another. Our rationale is this: I'm white (pink, really :p), and the locals (brown) at the shops, stalls, and roadside stands hike up prices from 3 to 10x what they charge locals. Grocery stores, however, have fixed prices regardless of who you are or how rich you look.

MadScientistMatt
02-07-2006, 09:58 PM
I'm working on a query on the growth of farmers markets, why they are wonderful, and how we can continue to advocate them.

Have you been to a farmers market? Why or why not?

Do you choose to go to a farmers market instead of a grocery store? Why or why not?

What do you like best about farmers markets? What could be improved?

I've sometimes been to the DeKalb County Farmer's Market. Things I like about it include:

Often, the prices are lower than at a grocery store.
You can buy all sorts of things that no normal grocery store carries.
Some things, particularly seafood, are kept fresher than at a grocery store. Would be a bigger plus except that I don't like fish.
Things I don't like about it:

It's about 40 miles away.
There's a pretty overpowering smell from the fish area that really hits you when you first walk in. The place could be a lot cleaner.
If it were local, I'd shop there a couple times a month. The local farmer's market is seldom open and doesn't have anything remotely resembling the selection at DeKalb.

VictoriaE
02-07-2006, 11:01 PM
The farmer's markets here--there are several--tend to shaft newcomers. Bruised, even moldy stuff on the bottom of pre-packaged baskets of strawberries or tomatoes, like that. I suppose if I went repeatedly, I'd be a familiar face and get the good stuff, but I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment.

My grocery store has good produce, and I patronize farm stands and pick-your-own farms in season.

Maryn, who'd rather be a fruit than a vegetable

That is very said to hear that they do that just because someone is a newcomer. Sounds like a market being run badly.

VictoriaE
02-07-2006, 11:02 PM
I wish I had some here.


In Europe, Farmer's Markets are everywhere.


Fresh fruit and vegetables ...........hopefully organically grown, on earth instead of in factories. Supporting the little guy instead of Walmart. What's not to like?

Exactly - it is more than worth it, let alone it is usually more affordable because there are so little processing and transporation costs.

Check out http://www.localharvest.org/ to see if you can find a local place :)

PattiTheWicked
02-07-2006, 11:26 PM
My town hosts a Saturday morning farmer's market each week throughout the summer and fall. I've gotten some pretty good deals on produce, but a bigger problem is that all the hobby crafters and Avon ladies set up tables at the same time, so I've got to spend an hour down there just to buy some corn cobs or strawberries. The prices are reasonable, and I like supporting local vendors, but the parking usually sucks unless you get there really early.

What I actually prefer doing is a couple of times a month I take the kids to a local U-pick farm and we gather up our own stuff. It doesn't take long if all three of them help, and it costs me the same. Plus I know everything's really fresh, because it's right off the vine.

veinglory
02-08-2006, 01:42 AM
What an interesting topic. i go to one here for entertainment, veges, dog biscuits and various novelties. I like that I can take the dog and have a nice walk out in the sunshine. I do it as an extra to normal shopping for fresh produce.

My Mom in NZ says here town just started one there too.

Minister
02-08-2006, 06:56 AM
I'm working on a query on the growth of farmers markets, why they are wonderful, and how we can continue to advocate them.

Have you been to a farmers market? Why or why not?

Do you choose to go to a farmers market instead of a grocery store? Why or why not?

What do you like best about farmers markets? What could be improved?

I've been to them a few times, and my inlaws actually farm and sell at them. We like them, and go when we get the chance. I like supporting the little guy (although a lot of the sellers here in NYC are hardly little guys, and probably have highly questionable labor practices; they can't claim much moral high ground over even Walmart). At a decent farmers market, there is a better selection of produce than at a grocery store, not only in the variety of products, but also in the chance of finding the item that you want in great condition, at just the point of ripeness that you want, or at the right size for what you are cooking (this is helped because unlike a grocery store, you would have a half-dozen or a dozen people selling, say, corn or a particular type of apple). We don't usually go to one instead of a grocery store because of location and timing. There is only one really accessible one to us, and it is only open something like one day a week for a few months of the year. And it is a solid hour to two hours round trip, while the closest decent grocery store is only ten to twenty minutes round trip. If one were closer, we would use it frequently, I'm sure. My wife loves them (having grown up with them out in MN).

That gives an idea of the positives/why-we-go's and the negatives/what-can-be-improved's. If you have particular questions, feel free to contact me, and I can pass them along to my wife and her parents.

mkcbunny
02-14-2006, 06:26 AM
We have one about two blocks away that's open every Saturday. I have mixed thoughts about it. On the one hand it's great for getting vegetables at the last minute [oddball chili peppers, herbs, and lettuce, are some of the things I'll grab there]. It's also great for inexpenisve cut flowers and potted orchids. And some weeks the fishermen are there with caught-that-morning salmon at fair prices. And you can get lots of nuts, too.

What's not so good at my local FM is the fruit. Especially the apples. I don't know why. The avocadoes tend to stink, too; some never ripen. So I never buy fruit there.

So it's a mixed bag. The nice thing about it is if you want to make weekend meals and don't feel like dealing with the grocery store, you pop down there, see what looks good and get something fresh at generally good prices. A lot of it is organic but cheaper than organic produce in a "regular" grocery store.

I've also been to FMs in Vermont, where everything was really fantastic. [I live in Oakland.]

Leva
02-14-2006, 11:01 PM
Sold live chicks, in an area where chicks are normally raised by the buyer for butcher. :) I have an endangered heritage breed that's meant as a dual purpose bird (meat, eggs) and was bred to be extremely hardy as they were kept on sailing ships historically. They make great "back yard" birds, and my buyers knew this. (I had a couple other breeds, and people would consistently ask for the "black and white birds" ... even if they didn't know the breed name!)

The chick sales paid for feed for the breeders & I kept enough of the best chicks back for the next generation for a couple of years ... I hatched my own and undercut the price at the feed stores by about $.75 and did a good business, often selling out in a few minutes after I pulled up. I'm STILL the "chicken lady" when I pulled up.

It was a hassle, though. I constantly had to deal with people who thought because they were dealing directly with the breeder, they should be able to buy chicks at ridiculously low prices -- my break even point was $1.25/chick and I tried to get $1.50 a chick. People would want to pay $.25/chick. And throw screaming fits if I wouldn't sell for that. This was something of a cultural thing -- most of my buyers are Mexican immigrants and in Mexico bargaining is a pretty much a combat sport -- but it's annoying when they won't take NO! for an answer.

I also had another seller want to buy all my stock at an utterly ridiculous price -- and then when I wouldn't sell, she spent the entire day telling people in Spanish that my birds were sick. Her stall was before mine on the general flow of traffic, and that was the ONLY day I ever took birds home. I only found out about this at the end of the day when a Spanish-speaking friend tattled on her.

Let's see ... I also had someone demand that I hold my ENTIRE stock of laying hens -- I was selling about forty hens at the end of the breeding season -- and he'd go into town, get the money, and come back and buy them. I don't hold birds because 1. they sell in minutes -- why would I want to sit around for hours wanting someone to come back? and 2. People often promise to come back, and don't. I told him, categorically, NO.

Two hours later, he shows up as I'm putting my cages away, with the hens all sold -- they'd actually sold to the next guy who'd come along a few minutes later with cash in hand. (Who had just completed a henhouse and was deleted he'd have laying hens that day and wouldn't have to wait six months for chicks to grow up!) I'd only stuck around because I had some other stuff to sell.

Mr. I-demand-you-wait-for-me was so furious I'd sold the birds HE wanted that he "accidently" ran over my cages with his truck, then sped off yelling, "Whoops! That was an accident!" out the window. No license plate on his truck, either.

Then there was the woman who I told turkeys were $10 each, and she said she wanted all of them, so I loaded 20 turkey poults into a box and asked for the $200 and her boyfriend grabbed the box of the poults, put it in her car and she tried to talk me down to $50. Wouldn't give me the $200 we agreed on. I had to threaten to call the cops before she gave me the poults back. She was acting utterly "righteous" and said that $10 was too much to charge and I should be "ashamed" of myself. (Baby turkeys cost more than that ordered from a hatchery!)

At any rate, the pure hassle became too much -- the farmer's mnarket was NOT well run (and has since pretty much become a flea market) but I'm afraid I'd have to deal with stuff like that anywhere I went.

blisswriter
02-15-2006, 01:18 PM
I'm working on a query on the growth of farmers markets, why they are wonderful, and how we can continue to advocate them.

Have you been to a farmers market? Why or why not?

Do you choose to go to a farmers market instead of a grocery store? Why or why not?

What do you like best about farmers markets? What could be improved?

I love farmer's markets, especially when they're part of flea markets. Before we moved (several months ago) we went to the farmer's market every weekend. I have the addresses for a few here but they are so much further away than they were in our old town. We're moving to an area that's more rural than our current one and I hope to find farmer's markets or at least individuals selling their home grown produce.

We used the farmer's market in addition to the grocery store because the market didn't have everything we needed and it was only there once a week.

I love farmer's markets because I believe in supporting local growers. I believe it's good for our local economy. I also like buying produce that is picked ripe and sold soon after. In addition, I want my daughter to know what real fruit and veggies smell and taste like.http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

spike
02-21-2006, 12:21 AM
I live close to the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmer's Market (http://www.fairgroundfarmersmkt.com/), in Allentown PA.

It's open Thur-Sat and they have some of the freshest meats. I don't go there every week, because it is a bit of a tourist attraction. There are Amish stands, manned by Amish people. Ever since that Witness movie, everyone wants to see the Amish. The thing is, they keep to themselves, except when they want to sell you something!

A farmers market is one of the few times you can really get into a conversation with them!

PastMidnight
02-21-2006, 03:50 AM
Our farmer's market runs on Saturday mornings, all year round. I don't often shop there, because they tend to sell specialty/gourmet items: game meats, heirloom potatoes, homemade wines and beers, etc. Nothing that I need or can afford. I do like buying local honey there and baked goods. I haven't yet lived in this city during spring and summer, so I'm not sure if the amount of common produce increases then. I hope so, because I would do all of my produce shopping at the summer farmer's market in the city that I lived in previously.