On a very recent dreary, cold day, I found myself pining away for a sign of summer and thinking, " wouldn’t it be perfect to be able to get up early on a warm and sunny Saturday morning and head down to the local farmers market"? No longer just wishful thinking – the time has finally come! Farmers markets are busting out everywhere and the Arlington Heights market opens this Saturday, June 11, right behind the library in the parking lot at Vail and Fremont. The market will run from now until Oct. 22 and the hours are 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Farmers' markets offer farm-fresh, affordable, convenient, healthy local products such as: fruits, vegetables, cheeses, herbs, fish, flowers, baked goods, meat and much more.
Supporting a local farmers market is one of the greenest things you can do. Why?
- The produce you purchase will be fresher than anything you can buy in a store.
- It will have traveled fewer miles to get to you.
- Small local farmers are less likely to use lots of chemicals in growing their produce.
- You can actually talk to them to find out exactly what growing methods they use.
I'm a bit of a market aficionado always looking for the best of the best so if you've been to the Dane County one on the capital square in Madison, WI you'll know what I'm talking about. That's worth at least one road trip over the summer, but there are so many in our area that you'll really enjoy getting to know. The Palatine and Elk Grove Village markets also have Master Gardener booths where you can ask the experts questions about anything that’s growing in your yard – veggies, herbs, flowers, perennials, etc.
Here are some tips I learned long ago after visiting my first farmers market a few years back:
- Always bring cash – it’s rare to find a vendor that takes credit cards.
- While we’re talking about money, plan an allotted amount for your purchases. It’s easy to get dazzled by the array of enticing booths.
- Bring your own bags – be green or face the evil eyes of others when they see you walking around with ten different plastic bags.
- Bring resealable containers to pack items like your berry purchases. Vendors do not provide them for you.
- Arrive early – the early bird gets the pick of the produce, gorgeous fresh flowers and yummy baked goods and, oftentimes, free samples.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – most farmers love to chat with customers about what they're growing..
And speaking of “growing”, don’t forget to register for our next Growing Green seminar, How Does Your Garden Grow, on Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m. We’ll have a team of gardeners talking about how to efficiently maintain your vegetable garden and reap the most from your plantings.
And If you make it to one of the local markets this weekend, give us the dirt on what you thought was the best thing about it. We’d love to hear from you here as well as on facebook and twitter.