5 Things to Consider When Going to the Farmers' Market

By Elise Giongco on June 4, 2015

Do you need some fresh air? Fresh fruit? Or anything “fresh,” for that matter? If you answered “yes” to any of those, then I suggest you go to your nearest farmers’ market! Farmers’ markets provide the perfect opportunity to purchase local goods, support people in your community, and simply enjoy a nice day out.

The first time I went to the local market, I felt surprisingly unprepared. I didn’t realize that one city could have more than one market (the Santa Cruz community has 5!) and each occur at different times and on different days, that the markets would be selling different things, or that I would even think to go again. I tested out the different markets in the Santa Cruz area to see which one worked best for me and realized that there are actually a few things to keep in mind when shopping at a farmers’ market.


1. What do you want to get out of it?

Even if you’re just strolling around, it’s helpful to know what you’re looking for when you go to the market. Do you want to listen to live music while you grab a quick breakfast? Maybe you want to get a little artsy and make crafts, or you just want to purchase vegetables to cook for dinner later. Deciding what you want to do can really help you pick a market to attend.

I wanted to try new things, eat yummy meals, and find healthier snacks. It took me a few visits, but the market downtown is ultimately my favorite!

Here is the website to take a quick glance at the different times and locations in Santa Cruz: http://www.santacruzfarmersmarket.org

2. Cash or credit?

While a only few booths accept credit/debit cards as a form of payment, all of them will accept cash. However, some of the markets have a booth that allows you to “purchase” wooden tokens with your card to take place of the cash. From experience though, it’s easier to shop at the farmers’ market when you have cash ready! It definitely saves you from feeling disappointed when you can’t buy that delicious bag of dried fruit, and it comes in handy when you want to tip your favorite vendor/musician.

Photo via http://www.centuryproductsllc.com

3. Transportation/Parking

Depending on the location you choose, you’ll be able to decide if it’s close enough to walk to, if you have to take the metro bus to get there, or if you have to drive a few minutes and find a good parking spot. If you decide to drive, keep in mind that not all of the lots close to the market will be free so remember to bring a few quarters just in case. If you decide to walk, ride your bike, or take the bus, I would also keep in mind how much you’d like to bring back because some of the items can get a little heavy.

4. Time

First, think about the time of the day in regards to weather because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked around wishing I wore shorts or have had to end my trip early because I didn’t bring a sweater. After you figure that out, think about how much time you’d like to spend at the market, and also consider how much time you are actually able to spare. Do you want to go right when it opens so you can have the ability to have first choice, or do you prefer going at the more popular hours when everyone is trying to buy things and taste food? If you go too close to the closing time, some of the booths will already be packing up, and some of the items you want to purchase or eat will already be gone.

The current times for the market located in downtown Santa Cruz.

My favorite time to go is about an hour after everyone has settled in. I get to to enjoy the market without being rushed or overwhelmed, share some small talk with the vendors, and have a good selection of produce.

5. Bring reusable bags 

Not all of the markets will have a booth that sells reusable/grocery bags so keep that in mind when you visit! If you decide to go to the market to purchase things, I suggest bringing at least one bag with you. The size and style of your bag will depend on your mode of transportation and shopping list, but no matter what you bring, you should feel comfortable with getting a little dirt in/on it and be able to carry it around the market with you. The booths that sell food will provide plastic bags to put their produce in, but it can get a little difficult carrying separate bags around, especially if you’re still shopping or want to take a break to eat something there.

Mike, a proud vendor of Lone Oak Ranch for over 20 years, smiles and explains that his favorite thing about the markets is talking to the people.

Whether you consider these reminders or not, the farmers’ market offers a variety of things so a trip to the market will always be fun! Each visit, I walk in with a different intention and come out with a different experience—one visit I came home with a balloon giraffe and a bowl of Indian food, the next visit I ate three oysters and brought home a jar of honey. Even as someone who visits at least every other week, I still find something new to appreciate or try. If you’re up for it, I challenge you to try something new each time you visit!

By Elise Giongco

Uloop Writer
I was born and raised in the Bay Area, but I wish I could live in Disneyland. In addition to my love for writing (poetry is my favorite form), I also enjoy music, candy, baking, and cuddling! I am a firm believer in the power of affirmations and hope that my articles can somehow serve as one :).

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