One of my favourite seasons of all is almost here, Farmers Market season! We are lucky enough to have a wide range of excellent Farmer's Markets rights here in the Ottawa Valley and you don't have to go into the city to reap the benefits of shopping at the Farmer's Market.
We all know the many benefits of shopping local, especially when it comes to your food but let me remind you just in case:
- your food will taste so much better when you buy from local growers.
- your food is so much healthier when it's picked at the right time and not transported for long periods of time that reduce the nutritional qualities
- your money stays within the local economy and supports families right here in your own community
- it's way more fun to shop at the local Farmers Market than it is to go to a box store
So what are some ways to get the most out of your Farmers Market experience?
- Timing is everything! Going early in the day means you'll get the best selection as nothing has been picked over yet. Going in the middle of market day (which usually means around 10-11am) will mean more crowds but if you're looking to socialize with your neighbours and feel connected with the people in your community then this is a terrific time to go. Going right before closing will likely be the best time to bargain and make a few deals as vendors are eager to get the last few sales of the day in. So depending on your interests/needs you may want to think about when the best time is for you to go.
- Ask a lot of questions! You have benefit of talking to the person who grew your food or made the item you're looking to buy so make use of that resource. Ask if/what chemicals were used. Ask for some ideas on how best to store and cook it. Once you start a conversation and get to know your local vendors you'll be surprised at how much care, attention and hardwork goes into producing the stuff they sell at market. I always love talking to people who are passionate about what they do and it's that personal connection that you get at the Farmers Market that you aren't likely to find at the grocery store.
- Consider joining a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). Being in a CSA program means you buy into part of the farm's production and get to eat some fantastic fresh food without having to actually do the enormous amount of work the farmer does. Now that's my kind of farming! One of many local farms offering this benefit is Funny Duck Farms and you can read more about what it means and how it works on their site. For a list of other local farms offering CSAs, please click here
- Show up! Even if you're not necessarily going to buy anything today, show up and support your local Farmers Market and browse, chat, maybe try a few samples. The more we support these local treasures, the longer they'll be around to benefit us and our entire community. Invite some friends and walk around, bring your morning coffee and visit with the vendors. Farmers Markets are like the pulse of a community and can be an excellent indicator of the strength and health of the community so let's all be a part of this wonderful tradition.
Check out your local Farmer's Markets- this season is just about to kick off!
- Carleton Place Farmers Market Opening Saturday, May 9th 2015 Join them on opening day and celebrate the beginning of the market season! 8:30 to 12:30, Official opening and cake cutting with Mayor Antonakos at 10:00am. They will have music, face painting, balloons, pony rides (small cost), family pictures, and of course flowers and gifts for Mother’s Day.
- Almonte Farmers Market Opening Saturday May 16th
- Perth Farmers Market see site for details
- Smiths Falls Farmers Market see site for details
- Carp Farmers Market also opening Saturday, May 9th
- McDonald's Corners Farmers Market see site for details
Hope to see you at any one of our amazing local Farmers Markets this season!