Summer is now in full swing, and it’s certainly been a hot one. One of the biggest attractions to the Heart of Orléans throughout the summer and early fall is the Farmer’s Market. While it is nice to be able to come down on a Friday afternoon and browse the kiosks and displays of the market, I have found that there are certain strategies that will not only help you navigate the market more efficiently, but also get the most out of your experience.
Obviously, there is more to visiting a farmers market than there is stopping by your local supermarket. While your average grocery stores have the luxury of drawing produce from all over the world, and providing even the most obscure fruits and vegetables to customers any time of year, such is not the case when it comes to local produce.
That is by no means a bad thing either…
The following are a couple of suggestions that we recommend when visiting the market in order to make your visit fruitful (no pun intended), enjoyable, and most of all, fun:
- Be sure to come prepared for the climate: The market takes place outdoors, and with the region having a hotter and dryer summer than usual, make sure that you wear a hat and sunscreen. A bottle of water would also be a good idea in order to keep hydrated. Because the kiosks are set up on asphalt, the radiant heat can make it feel even hotter than the posted temperature, and water is the best thing to keep you cool and hydrated.
- Bring your bags: This has become somewhat common practice in recent years with most supermarkets charging for plastic bags, but some people still need to be reminded to carry reusable bags with them. While some vendors do have plastic bags on hand, it’s much nicer (and more environmentally friendly) to bring along something to carry your treasures home in.
- Make it an adventure: While there is plenty of free parking right in front of the market, why not park your car a bit further down the street and walk? There are lots of interesting sights to see along St. Joseph Blvd. that sometimes get missed when speeding by in the car, and a bit of exercise is good for you. (Obviously with the heat we’ve been experiencing, you might want to minimize your exposure if you’re elderly or have respiratory problems… wait for it to cool down a bit…)
- Come early! Keep in mind that vendors don’t have a warehouse or backstock to reach for when quantities get low. What you see on display is normally what they’ve brought with them, and once it’s gone, you’re out of luck. I have passed by the market several times at 11:15am and seen lineups at various kiosks. If you come late, you may go home disappointed.
- Know what’s fresh…: As stated above, farmers markets don’t have the luxury of having hundreds of different products imported in from all over the world. Living in a climate like Canada does pose certain challenges to farmers that need to be put into consideration. That being said, when you eat food that is in season, it is the best tasting, most nutritious food you’ll ever have. Knowing what is in season when can certainly help you when faced with the task of choosing what to purchase. A helpful resource for this would be HERE, which lists everything you could expect to find at the market, and at what time of year. Plan accordingly, and you will never be disappointed.
Following these simple rules will result in the best possible experience at the market. Remember that the Orléans Farmers Market is open every Friday from 11am to 6pm through Thanksgiving and is located at Centrum Plaza between D’Arcy McGee’s and Sawa Sushi. If you are already a regular visitor to the market, tell a friend! Help support local farmers and ensure that we keep this invaluable resource in our area for years to come!