Depending one where you live, the local Farmer’s Market runs from May through October. In most areas, even if you live in the city, there will be a Farmer’s Market close by. This is a great way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, regardless of where you live. In fact, I was just talking to someone this past week that lived in Boston and he told me that he doesn’t go camping often due to lack of public lands but he loves going to the local farmers market weekly. What a fabulous idea.
Our local Farmer’s Market is so vibrant and colorful, from the bright fruits and veggies to the sumptuous smells and live music. In our area, the closest market is held in downtown historical Hamilton, MT, next to the old court house which is now the local county museum, and was built in 1900. We get to enjoy beautiful, old architecture while we shop. It’s just a short drive from our house, about twenty-five minutes. The market is open in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about the heat. What I love most about our market is that it’s outside, everything’s local and every time it is a different experience. And the samples are delicious, like going to Costco at lunch, but not inside a building and probably healthier.
I love to take my children because there is so much to do and it gets them outside without having to really plan ahead. We park a few blocks down and walk to the market, which usually entails lots of stopping and looking at flowers, trees and rocks along the way. I gave my daughter a camera to play with the last time we went, so we made several stops so she could take some pictures.
At the entrance, we stopped by a bread vendor and got some sweet rolls to eat later as well as some French bread. There were a few art vendors selling wooden bowls, home-made signs, picture frames made from slate and one of my favorites, a vendor selling pickled garlic. We bought some smoked garlic cheese spread and I was going to let my daughter try the jam, but instead of using a cracker to sample, she used the actual spoon, so we quickly left because I was so embarrassed.
From there we watched a clown juggling and continued down the road. The whole area is cordoned off for two blocks so you don’t have to worry about cars. We sampled some local honey, dried organic apples and some jam from a different vendor. I stopped at my cousin’s booth and bought a lemon cookie and a flaky spinach roll baked fresh the night before and visited for a minute while Niva took more pictures. My cousin’s booth is located right next to the food trucks. Coffee, burritos and other yumminess, all right there in one spot.
We usually have an idea of what we want to buy, so we continued to the booths of two local dairies. I bought some feta cheese made from sheep’s milk and some cheese curds made from cow’s milk as well as rainbow Swiss chard, zucchini and cherry tomatoes. I just think local, organic produce tastes so much better and it has all been picked fresh. We also stopped and checked out items created by local crafters which included soaps, jewelry, and candles. You can find just about anything at our farmer’s market including sauerkraut, herbs, flowers, and lots and lots of beautiful art.
We then stopped and sat on the lawn of the museum under the shade from the World War I Memorial and ate some lunch. The kids obliterated the cherry tomatoes and scooped up the cream cheese with hunks of bread. I barely had any cheese left when we were down. My children played peek-a-boo around the large memorial while a local band played lively music, and we rested for a little bit, enjoying the atmosphere.
After eating, the kids and I checked out more of the booths from other artists including metal work, pottery and quilts and bumped into more cousins. Our farmer’s market is definitely a gathering place and I saw alot of people that I know. One of my friends was there with her elderly father getting some coffee while her daughter waited for my oldest child. My friend’s father was very disappointed when I told him my chard was not beets like he anticipated. He said that beets were one of his favorites. So… I left the kids with my friend and bought him some beautiful purple, red and orange beets. He was very happy after that.
And then, because I needed some excitement, Niva wandered off while I was looking at some jars of jam. Luckily, the market is small so she didn’t wander very far. I didn’t have to worry though and quickly found her at the next booth looking at rocks. Another thing I like about our farmer’s market is that a lot of booths cater to children and have either samples, something free or several items for about a dollar for children. They are very kid friendly.
Before we left, we checked out several informational booths for local businesses and organizations including the Audubon Society, the museum booth and general information booth. It’s a great way to get information about your local community.
It was such a great way to enjoy our Saturday. I was able to get our family outside without having to pack up the house or plan ahead. All we needed was comfortable shoes, water, sunscreen and a reusable shopping bag.
Not only did we have a great time, but we were able to support our local farmers, small businesses and artisans. Buying local supports your local economy. You can find such unique gift items and wonderful produce and home-made food. A lot of farmers markets will take EBT as a form of payment and you can double a portion of your dollars.
To find a local farmers market, farm or farm stand near you, a great tool can be find online at www.localharvest.org.
Have fun, get outdoors, buy local and don’t let anything stop you from spending time outside.