Helpful Tips for Shopping your Farmers' Market

Getting Ready for a Trip to the Market

  • Always bring lots of small bills and change. You will be paying at each individual farmer's stand as each farmer is an individual business and there is no central checkout.
  • Very few farmers accept credit or debit cards. There are often ATMs close the market. Ask a farmer or the market manager for directions.
  • Every one of PCFMA's farmers' markets accepts EBT (food stamps on the Golden State Advantage card). Find the Market Manager, wearing a bright green shirt, to purchase tokens to spend in the market.
  • Certified Farmers' Markets are permitted Food Facilities and so no animals (except service dogs) are allowed. Please make plans to leave your animal at home or at a safe place outside of the market.
  • Smoking is not allowed in any PCFMA farmers' market. Please be kind to others by finishing your cigarette and disposing of it properly before entering the market.
  • If you're planning to purchase a lot (and why not when there's such a great variety?), old baby and toddler carts make good shopping carts. They fold up nicely in the trunk. If you use wire folding cart, put in a box or liner or your produce will work through the wire squares.
  • These are outdoor markets, open rain or shine. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. Fanny or waist packs are the best and safest way to keep money and keys. You don't have to worry about setting a purse or a wallet down and you have both hands free to shop and carry your shopping bags. They are practically pickpocket proof and are a great way to store the reusable produce bags you bring with you to market.

Once at the Market

  • If the farmer is not too busy, do not hesitate to ask questions about recipes or growing methods. No one knows the products better than the men and women that grow them.
  • If the market is busy, have patience with the growers. Smile at them and appreciate them. Most have gotten up very early and driven for over an hour to bring their products to the market for you and your family.
  • Bargaining for small amounts is not well received. Bargaining for big boxes or great amounts is usually acceptable. Remember that these are the growers of the produce. Do not insult them with unnecessary and small quantity bargaining. They worked very hard to sell it so affordably.
  • Most of the produce is unsorted and field run. Some of the best tasting fruit is cosmetically challenged. Most of the produce is vine or tree ripened. This means they can be delicate to the touch, so be careful not to damage the farmer's pride and joy. This is fruit only found direct from the grower. It is too fragile to ship to the wholesale market.

"Green" Shopping Tips for the Farmers' Markets

  • Bring your own bag: whether it's canvas, cloth, or just the plastic bags you saved from last week's trip, remember to stash your reusable bags in your car or bike basket and bring them with you to the farmers' market every week.
  • When a farmer offers you a plastic bag, smile and say "no thanks." Be a model for other shoppers at the market by using your own bags.
  • If you're planning to eat lunch or dinner at the market, bring your own fork. Paper plates will break down in compost bins, but most cutlery can't be recycled or composted. If a food producer is using compostable products tell them you appreciate it!
  • Pack up before you go: you might be sleepy leaving the house to go to the farmers' market on Saturday morning, so pack for the market the night before: get your reusable bags ready, along with your coffee mug, fork, and maybe a resealable plastic container for strawberries (old yogurt containers work great).
  • Why not walk or ride your bike to the farmers' market? It's a great way to be active and build up an appetite for all of the incredible fresh fruits and vegetables you'll find at the market.
  • Is the market too far to walk? You can probably get there by public transportation. Check the "Getting Here" tab on each market page for convenient public transportation directions to get you to the market.
  • Make your own veggie stock: save your veggie scraps in a bag in the freezer (onion skins, carrot ends, etc). When the bag is full, put the scraps in a pot with water to cover them, and boil for one hour. Strain and enjoy!
  • Use your empty strawberry baskets to cover young seedlings in your garden so snails and slugs don't get them. Or, bring the strawberry baskets back to the farmer: he'll appreciate it, and you might find your next basket has a few extra berries on top!
  • Start a home compost or worm bin for scraps: if you don't have a garden, find a neighbor who does.