Scene of grass and tents in the background at the Los Ranchos farmers market.
Los Ranchos Farmers Market, Albuquerque, New Mexico - a local treasure for the residents of ABQ.

Farmers Markets, Farm Stores & Co-Ops

Perusing the stalls, smelling the fresh produce, mingling with your neighbors, meeting farmers … shopping at farmers markets and farm stores has become the norm for many Americans.

Farmers Markets, Farm Stores & Co-Ops

Perusing the stalls, smelling the fresh produce, mingling with your neighbors, meeting farmers … shopping at farmers markets and farm stores has become the norm for many Americans.

Farmers markets have enjoyed an exponential growth trend in the last two decades, though they are hardly new in America with some markets originating before the Revolutionary War. They tend to be in open, outdoor, public spaces that range in size from a few booths to a few city blocks. A farmers market is a collection of stands manned by men and women who grow our food and sell it directly to us. The producers of the food interact directly with the consumers of the food, generally eliminating the middle person and reducing costs (transportation, refrigeration, retail rent, etc.). Farmers who sell at farmers markets benefit from the simplicity and independence of selling directly to community members. Farmers markets also help growers explore niche markets and grow vegetables that are generally not available in traditional supermarkets, helping to bolster the biodiversity of the community.

Ready to find a farmers market? Let us help! Click on the Region drop-down menu and choose a location. Then, click on the Category drop-down menu and choose “Farmers Markets.” Ta-da! You’ll find a list of farmers markets in your area in alphabetical order with loads of information.

The community benefits by having a supply of fresh food and providing a venue for consumers to interact with the producers of their food. People are exposed to new foods and can get information directly from the farmer. It is a great place to meet neighbors, enjoy the outdoors while shopping, and shop for seasonal food.

Farmers markets run the gamut in size, organization, and offerings. Most meet on a specific date/time during the growing season, which varies depending on the location. There is usually someone who acts as a manager or coordinator of the market. The manager helps coordinate the location of booths, provides community outreach, lines up live music, gets the necessary permits, and generally works hard to provide a good venue for vendors while creating a pleasant experience for community members.

You will be surprised by what you’ll find at the farmers market. In addition to a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, you may also find eggs, dairy, meats, honey, baked goods, prepared foods, live plants, arts, crafts, and locally-made items like soaps, lotions, and clothing. Many markets have live music and picnic tables. There are often booths providing information about community issues and voter-registration agents. You never know what you’ll find at the market!

Tips for shopping at a farmers market:

  • Don’t bring a list. Things change from week to week. Farmers grow according to the season, and crops respond to a multitude of environmental factors.
  • Walk around the market to see what’s being offered and compare prices. Prices and varieties often vary between growers. Ask questions if there is something you’ve never seen. Farmers often provide samples to introduce you to new foods.
  • If you are looking for variety, get there early. Many growers sell out quickly, especially if there is a high demand for a crop and it is just coming into season.
  • Deals can be had later in the day. It is generally considered poor form to haggle with a farmer, but there is nothing wrong with asking if a price can be lowered as the farmer is packing up to leave.
  • Bring your own bags! Reuse them!
  • Bring cash, preferably small bills. While more and more farmers take credit cards, you can help them out by reducing transaction costs if you bring cash. Keep in mind that they might be running low on $1 bills and would appreciate you using smaller denominations.
  • Stock up during the peak seasons. Tomatoes will only be at the market for so long, and then they’re gone.
  • Be mindful of others who also want to buy from that farmer. Looking at your phone while at the front of the stand prevents others from seeing what’s available and making purchases.
  • Well-behaved dogs are usually welcome, but check with the manager first before bringing Fido.

Most markets now participate in food assistance programs, bringing fresh food to more and more people. United In Food tries to provide updated information on which markets accept these programs, but checking with the market manager and individual vendors first is important.

Check with governmental agencies to get more information on each of these options.

  • Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). This program is for people who are over 60 and are enrolled in the Commodity Supplement Food Program (CSFP). It is funded by the USDA who awards grants to States and Tribes. Click here to see if your state participates and to find a local agency: https://www.fns.usda.gov/sfmnp/overview
  • Women, Infants and Children Farmers Market Nutritional Program (WIC FMNP) provides vouchers to eligible pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of 5. Get information about his program here https://www.fns.usda.gov/fmnp/wic-farmers-market-nutrition-program-fmnp
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also knowns as EBT and formerly known as food stamps. Many markets now accept SNAP where the cards can be used just like in the grocery store. Find more information here: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
  • Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB). Many farmers markets also participate in Double Up Food Bucks, allowing SNAP consumers to literally double their money at the market.