Farmer’s markets sprout up just about anywhere and everywhere you might find farmers. In fact, you don’t even need to be an official farmer to be a vendor, just a really successful home gardener!
In my Survival Mom Radio Hour on September 1, I interviewed Nurse Amy, and we discussed farmer’s markets. Naturally, you can buy fresh, usually organic produce from local growers, but here are four more excellent reasons to stop for a few minutes the next time you see that “Farmer’s Market!” sign.
- Ask the farmers what produce grows best in your area. They’ll be able to tell you what varieties to plant, how to work with the local soil, and a whole lot more. My experience with seed catalogs and most gardening books is that they’re written by and for people living in climate zones 5, 6, and 7. If you live in more extreme climates, as I do, your local growers will be worth a visit, and maybe a purchase, in order to pick their brains, and they may be willing to tell you the best places to buy seeds and seedlings.
- Start saving seeds using the produce purchased at a farmer’s market. Obviously these varieties grow well in your area, so why not remove the seeds, wash them, and dry them on a plate? Store the seeds in small envelopes. Be sure to label and date. By the way, master gardener Marjory Wildcraft recommends using ammo boxes to store seeds. She says they’re the perfect size!
- What do these farmers do in the off season? How do they prepare their land for the next growing season? What do they plant in the harsher months, if anything? If you’re like most gardeners, there are certain times of the year when you’re tempted to throw up your hands and forget about the garden until a kinder, gentler season rolls along. But is this what local growers do? How do they cope with extra harsh summers? Make a list of all your toughest questions and then make the rounds among the farmers at the market.
- Use their varieties to do your research. Don’t just take a seed catalog’s word for it. Not all farmers grow the same varieties, so look around and buy one tomato of each variety you see, and then one cucumber and one bag of green beans of each variety. After tasting each one, you decide which to plant. Be sure to ask each farmer where he/she buys seeds.