Now that we are in the thick of summer, it is the opportune time to visit your local farmer’s market! With the popularity and growth of the local food movement, great farmer’s markets are popping up everywhere.
I enjoy frequenting the farmer’s market in my own community, I also enjoy checking out farmer’s markets during my travels, whether that is a neighboring town or community or markets that are out of state. The one thing that farmer’s markets all have in common is that they are full of fresh and local produce.
Farmer’s Markets are family friendly. Going shopping at a farmer’s market can be a fun and practical family outing that provides entertainment, and allows kids to develop deeper understanding of the farm-to-table connection.
Consider these tips for making your experience at a farmer’s market successful:
1. Before you go to the market:
- Spark your child’s interest and understanding. You can turn your visit to the farmer’s market into an educational experience when you give your child opportunity to develop some prior knowledge and understanding. Here are some fun books that I recommended with a farmer’s market theme that you can share with your children:
Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Go to Market by Maj Lindman
Max Goes to the Farmers’ Market by Adria Klein
Tractor Mac Farmers’ Market by Billy Steers
2. On market day:
- Go early. It can be beneficial to walk around the farmer’s market before it starts, eyeing up offerings, sampling and comparing prices. It is also fun for both children and adults to experience the official start of the market and the signal (often a bell) that imitates the opening of the market and the start of the shopping experience.
- Bring your market basket, bags and cash. This will help with ease and ensure quicker transactions, which is helpful for both the vendors and you as a parent with children in tow.
- Ask the vendors questions. Children are naturally curious, so talking to farmer’s market vendors can help you as an adult gain a better understanding of the quality of the products, and it can give children opportunity to learn and develop deeper connections with the farm to table experience as well.
- Let your child do some shopping: Give kids money to make their own purchases (or maybe even they will want to use some of their own!). Children are more likely to eat what they choose. Giving them opportunity to use money in a real life setting provides opportunity and experience with money math skills.
- Plan a meal or snack from your farmer’s market finds. I have found that involving my children in the experience of shopping at the farmer’s market, engages my children’s curiosity and openness to try new and different foods. This can be simple, like raw veggies with dip, or something more involved, such as meal or side dish. The more involvement kids have with food, from purchasing to preparing, the more likely they are to eat it.
- Consider canning and preserving. It is such a treat to pull a jar of homemade jam, pickles, salsa or peaches off the shelf and serve it to your family, knowing that you had control over ingredients that were put into that glass jar. Read this article for tips to get started: Canning with Kids: The Basics You Need to Know.
Farmer’s Markets are a great place to bring your kids for so many reasons. Shopping at farmer’s markets helps you to provide your family with wholesome and healthy foods, it supports your local farmers, and it is both an enriching and educational experience for your children.