Farmers’ Markets – Where Fun and Frugal Meet!

Posted by on Aug 1, 2013 in Smart Shopper | Comments Off on Farmers’ Markets – Where Fun and Frugal Meet!

Farmers' MarketsRecently my friend and I spent a day at the Keady Farmers’ Market. This is one of the true, old-time Farmers’ Markets started in 1950 to give farmers a way to sell their livestock locally. As with most of the farmers markets, it has expanded to include the sale of other farm products – fruits, vegetables, baked goods and other foods processed right on the farm. This particular market still sells cattle, sheep, pigs and goats by auction and if you’ve never been to a farm auction, this alone would make it worth a visit.

We have bought and sold cattle at this Market and I once came home with four young Jersey calves in the trunk of my car. When our boys were little, they purchased rabbits, ducks and a huge variety of chickens on our visits there. Our most interesting – and unfortunately wasteful – purchase had to be the guinea hens. The day we brought those birds home, they immediately flew up high into one of the maple trees, schreeching the whole time and stayed there for a couple of days, still schreeching, then disappeared, never to return. By that time, other then the fact we were out the money, we really didn’t mind them leaving as they were the noisiest things ever. This experience often made me think about the guy who sold the same homing pigeons over and over again, knowing each time he sold them they would return and he could sell them again. Is there such a thing as homing guinea hens???

Back to the market. In a field across the road from the auction barn, are the stands selling fruits, berries,and vegetables in season. The stand above belonged to Joe’s Market Farms from Bradford. This was the first stand we saw when we entered the market and the looks of the produce plus the attractive way they had it displayed really appealed to me, so that’s why I chose to include their picture.

Farmers' MarketsStrolling further along we saw this neat display set up with homemade jams, pickles and chutney. I really have appreciation for the vendors who make the extra effort to really show off their products so that they stand out.

After that there were more stands with meat and cheese products and further along Mennonite ladies were selling fresh produce and home-baked goods of all kinds – pies, squares, bread and rolls, meat pies – plus homemade summer sausage, maple syrup, more pickles, jams and jellies, and so on. It didn’t matter what anyone was selling – everything looked wonderful.

A section was set aside for plants and these included all kinds of shrubs, potted plants, perennials, herbs, vegetables and flat after flat of annuals. As much as the colour and fragrance of this area appealed to us, we didn’t spend a lot of time here since neither of us needed any plants, but it you were buying, there would have been a good chance of finding exactly what you were looking for.

As we were heading back, I saw this sign and just had to take this picture. I have long been a supporter of the 100-mile rule so I was tickled to find a vendor at the market that had incorporated this slogan right into their name.

CCI21072013_0005The 100-mile rule promotes the purchase of products grown within 100 miles. This supports the local economy, provides consumers with the best and freshest produce at fair prices, and reduces pollution and cost by eliminating the need for long-distance transportation. To me, the whole concept just makes a lot of sense.
 
 Finally, another huge field to the side contained a flea-market and there you could buy anything from old buttons to the newest e-bikes and everything in between, such as sheets, clothes of all kinds, leather goods, handmade jewelry, herbal health products claiming to cure all ailments, etc. I’m not a super flea-market junkie but obviously thousands are as this area was absolutely packed. However, I did pay particular attention to the price of things in this area and found that, while some things were overpriced, there were a great many bargains to be found.
 
The same area also contained the concession stands offering all kinds of fair-type foods, but I like to buy a bread roll and fill it with meat and cheese purchased from different vendors. Not only is this less costly and healthier, it gives you a chance to try different foods before buying.
 
A tip for market shopping.
  • If you’re looking for a specific product, go early for the best choice;
  • If you just want a really good deal, go just before closing. The produce vendors prefer not to take things home, especially berries, tomatoes, greens, and other stuff that doesn’t keep, so they really knock down the price of anything they have left at the end of the day. I’ve gotten some amazing deals this way, including whole flats of blueberries and strawberries for only $5.00 a flat
The big trend nowadays is the ‘One Tank Trip’, but that isn’t new to us. We’ve been doing ‘Half Tank Trips’ for years by visiting interesting places close to home, like the many different Farmers Markets. The majority of places we visit have no admission fee, we always have a good time and, on top of all that, we manage to leave most places with a bargain or two. Visiting Farmers Markets is one of the many ways by which we manage to combine fun and frugal.
 
Talk to you again next week,
 
Lenie
 
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