From the SO Community: Farmer’s Market and Community Garden Experiences

In the same way that we listened in on the experiences of our readers with CSAs, I wanted to hear from you all about farmer’s markets and community gardens as well.

While I haven’t had any experience with community gardens, I do love to admire them whenever I happen upon one. They really seem like an amazing way to be involved socially in the community, contribute toward beautifying the public space, and feed the family some good home-grown food.

Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to live in the land of year-round farmer’s markets. We don’t go often anymore because of our CSA subscription, but I love farmer’s markets for more than just the produce. I love seeing the community come together to support local vendors, and they are sure are visually appealing as well. Since our local market is on Sunday, we’ve enjoyed heading over after lunch for some lunch and live music and maybe even a dozen eggs or a few other items.

Read on to hear from a few of our readers about their experiences…

Farmer’s Markets

Photo by syntheticaperture

Depending on where you live, you may have seasonal markets or year-round, with pricing varying depending on the local farming community. As Larissa pointed out though, the cost might end up being totally worth it for you, “Our farmer’s market is a quite expensive compared to the supermarket produce, but most of the produce is organic and the smell of it is amazing- it smells real.”

It really interests me to hear how different regions have different types of markets and in fact found this description by Kim to be fascinating,

“I am part of a co-op of families that buys from our state farmer’s market (in SC). We buy certain staple items year round (onions, potatoes, grapes, peppers, carrots, lettuce, etc.) from wholesalers and we get a great price plus the produce is much fresher than in the grocery store. Sometimes it is local, but not always. We also have a changing seasonal list. These items are almost always from local farmers, and we get great prices on those too. I always buy a large quantity of strawberries and peaches when they are in season locally and freeze them.

Last year I supplemented my co-op produce (we meet every 3 weeks) with produce from several smaller farmers markets around town. I loved meeting the farmers and learning about their methods. Not to mention that some folks are willing to cut you a deal when you are a friendly, loyal customer. My favorite items to get from the local markets are tomatoes, corn, and peaches, because I like to pick them out myself. There are also farmers who sell free range eggs, grass fed meat, and local honey – score! As far as I know all of the farms are local and some of them are even organic (even though some of them are not certified as such).”

One of the biggest benefits of shopping the local farmer’s markets is learning how to eat more seasonally.

Hannah recently was inspired to do this, after reading one of my personal favorite books, “I’ve just restarted my farmer’s market habit after reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I’d fallen off the wagon a bit, but am now freshly resolved to organized our eating more around what’s seasonal for our area.”

Community Gardens

Photo by rickbradley

I still haven’t heard much from our community of readers about community garden experiences, which makes me wonder if these are less common now than they used to be.

But community gardening doesn’t have to refer to a shared plot of land provided by your neighborhood or town… as Megan mentioned in her recent article on gardening with kids, she’s been able to start co-gardening on a friend’s land– what a blessing!

I also loved hearing what Britanie Meyers does (via Facebook) with her extended family:

“My entire extended family does a huge garden together at the grandparents’ house every summer. I love working with everyone in the garden. I have great memories of picking green beans with the whole family.”

If you have any experiences to add about farmer’s markets or community gardens, please do share them in the comments!

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6 Comments

  1. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    My husband and I have done several CSAs over the years with several different farms.

    Our favorite things about the CSA: we tried produce we NEVER would have otherwise encountered (swiss chard, kohlrabi, garlic scapes), and we had access to special produce that was reserved solely for CSA subscribers (purple carrots, tiger melons–YUM!)

    But, I think everyone should know going in–subscribing to a CSA can be a ton of work. All that fresh produce has to be prepped, in a timely fashion. Never again will we do a CSA with an infant in the house, or during a really busy time in our lives.

    I also did a post on Farmers Market shopping recently on my blog:
    http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2011/05/what-you-need-to-know-before-you-hit-the-spring-farmers-market/

    • Nicole

      I agree with you, Anne, as far as having a baby! I quoted you in our last CSA article- not sure if you saw that. 😉 Luckily our CSA usually lets me skip a box when I’ve needed to (like when a new baby arrives), and just add that extra box or 2 on to the end of my subscription.

      I love those purple carrots- our CSA grows those, too!

      • Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

        I wish we could just skip a box and get it later in the season–that’s a really nice feature. Our market just opened last weekend–it’s fun to see all the farmers (and our own neighbors) again after a long winter! Many of the farms are offering new CSA options this year–there are many more flavors, and a lot more flexibility is being offered than in years past.

        As a consumer, I hope this is a trend. And for the farmers, I hope this flexibility isn’t hard on them–and I hope they’re able to add to their customer base.

        (I missed my own quote–thanks so much!)

  2. Heather Moll

    We do a community garden and absolutely LOVE it. It has been such a great experience for our family, especially our kids. It’s a short bike ride away from our house and since we don’t have much space at our house we can grow so much more there. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I know where I live (in Alberta) community gardens are becoming more and more popular and in our city, there are plans to build several more in the next few years because of their popularity. I am so glad we found out about it when we did and were fortunate enough to get a plot.

    • Nicole

      Thanks for sharing, Heather. That sounds so fun, being able to ride bikes right over to the garden!

  3. bili osi

    Hey Nicole, I agree, they point that you wrote about the benefit that in Ko – op that you eat seasonal food, but I saw here a point that many people not willing to advance, when you eat seasonal food, you also some “give up” on things that You are used get in super market generally, so now you maybe not always eat what you want, but you get the profit, that you are connected to the cycles of nature, that I find it really fun. Not so ? 🙂

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