With the summer sun bringing farmers markets to every major square in the Hub, knowing how to maneuver the marketplace makes shopping for dinner less of a chore. For advice on how, what, and when to buy from your local exchange, vendors and local shoppers from markets across Boston open up on the best ways to eat your (local) veggies.
DO avoid the rush — and the mush
When is the prime time to shop at farmers markets? Ben Ames from Langwater Farms recommends coming an hour after the market opens. “Nothing will be sold out, and it’ll be after the morning rush.”
Also consider the summer heat. A seller from Haymarket notes that produce waiting all day outdoors can affect the quality of the produce.
DO ask questions
Head farmer of Kimball Fruit Farm Dan Wadleigh loves when his customers ask him questions. “[By] knowing where the produce is coming from, people trust the produce and find peace of mind in what they’re getting,” he says. Wadleigh encourages buyers to ask about what sprays or pesticides were used on the produce, storing tips for produce or for a substitute when an item isn’t available at the market.
DO make it fun!
Linda Okun has been going to the Brookline Farmers Market since she was a little girl — which was about 50 years ago. She comes to the farmers market to meet her friends as well as her favorite vendors. “I have a fish lady, I have a poultry lady, I have a knife lady…” Okun recounts. “It’s a meet up place; it become a social occasion.” Okun then continued to prove her point by grabbing a treat from a homemade ice cream truck parked around the bend.
DON’T bargain the price
Sorry, but everyone — customers and vendors alike — recommends not asking for a discount at the farmers market. Customers who know what it takes for their farmers to get produce from the farm to the market recognize that the quality and freshness are included in the price. For Zach Lewis from Somerville, “If it’s marginally more expensive, it’s worth it.”
As for the deals at Haymarket, Boston’s oldest open air, it’s hard to imagine getting a bigger bargain from the deals available (They’re selling a crate of berries for $5 by Saturday evening!) but we did witness one seller taking a dollar off for a man short on cash — perks of interacting directly with the seller!
DON’T be afraid to try new things
“What should I eat for dinner?” is the last question you want to ask after a long workday. Ames believes that the seasonal food options farmers are selling are a start. “People get bogged down by planning,” he says. “With [seasonal eating], you get to be adventurous.” In addition to putting dinner in the hands of a market’s seasonal selection, shoppers can also ask the seller for tips for preparing it.
DON’T disrespect the produce
Amanda Centrella from Langwater Farms has only one request for shoppers: “Have respect for what’s on the stand because it took a lot to get them there.” She’s talking to shoppers who either handle produce roughly or carelessly drop them on the ground and to parents who don’t watch as their kids pick and eat fruit right off the market shelf.
An appropriate punishment: making them eat broccoli.
If you go:
Brookline Farmers Market
Every Thursday through November 7 at 1:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Centre Street West Parking Lot, Brookline
Davis Square Farmers Market
Every Wednesday through November 23 at 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Herbert St. and Day St., Somerville
Dewey Square Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Thursday through November 22 at 11:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Dewey Sq. Plaza on the Greenway (across from South Station), Boston
Every Friday and Saturday at 4 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Blackstone St. (between Hanover Street and North Street), Boston