There’s nothing I’d rather do on a Sunday morning than sleep in . . . that is unless I happen to remember the Baltimore Farmers Market is reopening. Forget the hail we had last week, if the farmers market is opening, it’s official; spring has sprung! Touted as Maryland’s largest producers-only market, meaning all vendors make or grow what they sell, if you’re in Baltimore, this is worth waking up for.
This time of year, expect to see seedlings and flowers of every variety ready for planting. Until it closes in mid-December, look forward to not only seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, but poultry, seafood, beef, pork, lamb, bison, goat, rabbit, fresh baked goods, flavorful herbs and organically raised and produced milk, yogurt, butter, eggs and cheese products.
But wait, there’s more! Food vendors also join in on the fun offering something for everybody. A few of my favorites include the organic smoothies, omelets, mushroom sandwiches and warm powdered donuts. I’ve been known to roll out of bed at 11 just in time for a smoothie and donuts; breakfast of champions!
KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
It’s a farmers market. It’s probably crowded and you should anticipate standing in a line or two. BE PATIENT. BRING CASH, small bills preferably, as this will speed up your transaction. It’s also a good idea to BRING YOUR OWN REUSABLE BAGS. Some markets sell them, so keep an eye out.
PLAN YOUR ARRIVAL TIME
There will always be those that swear if you arrive early you’ll have your choice of the crop. Then there are those who arrive late in an attempt to get last minute deals from farmers wanting to unload everything they brought with them. Popular items might sell out quickly, but most farmers are constantly unloading. Go a few times and figure out a time works best for you.
BRING THE KIDS
Taking KJ to the regular market is challenging to say the least, which is why oftentimes I leave him home, lol. But the farmers market is completely different. It’s an experience. We do our fair share of gardening, so KJ knows most fruits and veggies grow in the dirt, but the farmers market provides him the opportunity to see so much more. It’s not in bags, or frozen, and some of it still has a little dirt on it which really amazes him. Then there are the samples. For some reason he’s much more apt to try a new vegetable at the farmers market than at home, and I’ll take it. There are also fun activities to keep them busy because organizers realize moms have children in tow. They want the experience to be enjoyed by all.
LEAVE THE FURRY KIDS AT HOME
I love Ali. He is the sweetest pup there is and I love showing him off, but I will not subject him to the farmers market. Oftentimes, even in the early morning summer temperatures have creeped into the uncomfortable range. Then there are the crowds. Crowds can be extremely stressful for dogs of all ages, not to mention all the new sights and smells he’ll encounter. Yes, you can bring water and yes, your dog might love strangers tripping over him, but I’m willing to bet he’d probably prefer you pick him up some organic treats while he keeps your bed warm for when you return.
THIS ISN’T CHARMIN, RESIST THE URGE TO SQUEEZE
I know we all think if you thump just right, squeeze that one spot, the perfect melon will speak to us. Not true, and oftentimes we bruise what was already perfection. Most farmers love the opportunity to educate us city folk, so if you’re unsure what a ripe cantaloupe looks like, ask for their assistance. I find the vendors are always more than helpful and you’ll probably end up with something better!
I don’t know about you, but my senses go on overload at the farmers market. So much to see, taste and smell that before you know it, I’ve purchased random items that end up rotting in the fridge. To combat that, I plan what I’m cooking for the week and go armed with a shopping list of the ingredients needed. Doesn’t have to be excruciatingly detailed, but a loose list works wonders.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Although you have your list, be open to trying to new things. I’ve oftentimes gone with my heart set on a particular side dish, usually something normal and boring, only to have one of the vendors recommend something I’ve never tried. While the results vary, I take pride in simply stepping out of my comfort zone. Of course if I’m expecting guests, I stick to the plan, but if it’s just a meal for us, why not?
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
We frequent the Baltimore Farmers Market and others throughout the year so I thought I knew what to expect. Boy was I wrong! This year it seemed twice as big with twice as many vendors of all kinds. Of course you expect fruits, veggies and flowers. They also throw in food vendors. But where did the pop up shop selling dresses and jewelry come from? Or the handmade soaps and jewelry? And did I mention the brewery? This is not your granny’s farmer’s market! It’s fun and filled with items not only for your kitchen, but your closet, jewelry box and even a little something to decorate to the walls!
I LOVE everything about this!
These soaps looked like slices of cake!
With plenty to see and do, the farmers market is worth sacrificing a little sleep for and gives you the opportunity to shop locally and eat fresh. And now it’s your turn! Share your favorite farmers market along with any tips you have when shopping!