Hi! I’m Brittany Mullins, a full-time online marketing gal and part-time holistic health coach living in Richmond, Virginia. I’m also the author of Eating Bird Food, a healthy living blog that features nutritious (and tasty) recipes, workouts and a glimpse into my daily life, which is currently being taken over by wedding planning.

One of my favorite things about spring and summer is all the seasonal produce. Saturdays from May – October my fiancé and I wake up early to explore our local farmers market. We sip coffee, taste a few samples or have breakfast, buy produce and other locally made goods and give our dog, Olive, a chance to meet and greet some other pups. It’s something we look forward to each week.

I love shopping at farmers markets. However, I can see how it could be a little intimidating for those who have never been. So, today I want to share some of my favorite tips for a successful farmers market adventure.

  1. Do a little research. Visit localharvest.com to find farmers markets nearby. Check their days/hours and visit a couple to find out which ones you like best based on the location and vendors. We have quite a few in Richmond, but my two favorites are the South of the James Farmers Market and The Market at St. Stephen’s. Both of which are open on Saturday mornings from 8:00AM-12:00PM.
  2. Try to arrive earlier rather than later. Popular items often times sell out fast so head to the market early – you’ll beat the crowd and get the best selection.
  3. Bring some reusable bags and definitely stop by the ATM before heading to the market. Some vendors take credit cards, but most of them only accept cash.
  4. It’s fun to come hungry – often times farmers markets have coffee, food trucks and samples. If you come hungry you’ll be more likely to try something new.
  5. Talk to the vendors/farmers. If you’re interested in natural, organic produce ask how their produce is grown. Often times, small farmers adhere to organic growing principles but can’t afford the official certification.
  6. Try at least one “new-to-you” item. Farmers markets have some obscure items that you might not know what to do with. Pick one out, ask the farmer about it and then research recipes online. Who knows, you might just find your new favorite fruit/veggie.
  7. Go beyond produce. Some of my favorite items to buy at the farmers market are flowers and freshly baked breads but you’ll also find meats, eggs, cheeses and other tasty delights.
  8. Most markets also have vendors that sell crafts and baked goods. Handmade artwork, jewelry, candles and sweets make great gifts!
  9. Shop around before deciding to buy. Nothing is worse than buying produce at one stand and finding the same item is cheaper or fresher from a vendor two tents down.
  10. Bring a list with a few ideas of what veggies you need, but also be willing to compromise once you see what vegetables are available and look the best that week.
  11. Make a date of it! Go with your hubby/boyfriend/best friend and enjoy yourself. It’s fun just to walk around and explore what local farms are producing in your area.

Do you shop at your local farmers market? What are some of your favorite items to buy?