Let’s Take This (Shopping List) Outside
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags).
Vendors will have plastic bags on hand, but it’s always wise to come prepared with more durable reusable totes. Consider wrapping frozen items and wet produce or flowers in plastic bags, then double bagging in canvas. If you plan to frequent farmers’ markets this season, invest in a cooler or insulated bags for products like eggs, cheese, meat, and frozen ravioli.
Cash is king!
Some vendors have begun using SquareUp to accept credit card payments on the go, but it’s safest to hit the ATM first. Expedite the process by breaking your large bills first. Vendors will much appreciate small bills—bonus points for exact change!
Early bird gets the bread…and the strawberries.
Certain vendors have super popular items that go fast. For example, Gemelli Bakery usually has a line waiting at the North Atherton Market before they even arrive—items like their soft pretzels and pepperoni rolls, or certain fruit pies, sell out quickly.
It’s not unusual for favorite seasonal items like strawberries to sell out within the first hour or so, or 15 minutes in the case of Bee Tree Berry Farm at the Bellefonte Market.
Scope out the scene before you commit.
Take a quick stroll through the market before making purchases and compare the offerings of each vendor against your shopping list. Don’t forget that whatever catches your eye in the first lap could be gone by the time you’ve circled back to square one.
Plan ahead, but go with the flow.
As with traditional grocery shopping, having a list always comes in handy. Remember that you can tackle a good portion of your family’s food needs with a weekly visit to the friendly vendors at Boalsburg, Lemont, North Atherton, Downtown State College, Bellefonte, or Millheim farmers’ markets. You can rely on these markets as your source for dairy, meat, and baked goods, but keep an open mind! Specific offerings will vary from one week to the next, and you just might discover a new favorite protein to throw on the grill this summer.
Make friends while you shop.
Farmers’ markets don’t need to be a heads-down race to fill the cart. Take time to meet the vendors; let their stories and insights inform your buying decisions. They know their products better than anyone and have seasonal advice and maybe even a trade secret or two to offer.
What’s that saying? “Never grocery shop on a full stomach.” Fair enough, in most cases, but at the North Atherton, Downtown, and Boalsburg farmers’ markets, El Gringo Taco Truck is on site serving up tacos and tamales with homemade salsas, all made with ingredients from local farmers. Keep this in mind as you fix your pre-market meal.
Check out the lineup of local farmers’ markets, and get out there!
Downtown State College Farmers’ Market | Tuesdays & Fridays 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | Locust Lane
North Atherton Farmers’ Market | Saturdays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Home Depot parking lot
Boalsburg Farmers’ Market | Tuesdays 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. | Military Museum parking lot
Lemont Farmers’ Market | Wednesdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. | 133 Mt. Nittany Road
Amish Farmers’ Market | Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays | Hills Plaza Parking Lot
Tri-Valley Amish Farmers’ Market | Tuesdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Mellon Bank entrance at Nittany Mall
Bellefonte Farmers’ Market | Saturdays 8 a.m. – noon | Gamble Mill parking lot
Millheim Farmers’ Market | Saturdays 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. | American Legion grounds