The Return of the Farmer’s Market

by Courtney Pelot, Contributing Writer

farmers market

The fabulous Dane County Farmers’ Market is just days away from reappearing around the Capitol Square. Being the fresh, local produce obsessed girl that I am, I’ve had a countdown calendar going on my phone for the past two months, counting down the days until I can once again shop around the square. The 2014 season starts this Saturday, April 19th and will continue every weekend until the beginning of November, rain or shine, from 6 am to 2 pm.

 

The first thing every farmers’ market goer needs is a reusable tote bag to toss in all your gorgeous fruits and vegetables. With a nice, sturdy tote bag, you can avoid awkwardly struggling to carry your purchases around, and as a result, you will have your hands free to examine vegetables and dig cash out of your wallet. Below are some of my favorite bright tote bags for spring.

Summer Bags for the Farmer's Market

 

Now that you have a stylish tote bag to take along with you to the farmers’ market, you’re probably asking what you are going to buy once you get there. Since the Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the United States, meaning everything at the stands is grown or created locally, you will have plenty of choices. Right now, asparagus, broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms, spinach and parsnips are the best produce that are in season for spring and that are likely to be found at the farmer’s market. The farmers’ market is the perfect chance for you to try something new, so don’t be afraid. Take a chance and try Swiss chard, kohlrabi, or radishes. Bring a new item home and experiment with some new recipes. You never know, you could find a new favorite vegetable. When making your produce purchases, be careful to purchase only what you are able to eat during the week. Farm fresh produce does typically lasts longer than the items you buy at the grocery store, however, don’t go overboard or you may end up wasting food. Remember, the farmers’ market is going on every single Saturday, so you can stock up again the next weekend.

Be sure to stop by the vendors selling tasty treats like donuts, cupcakes, cookies and breads as well. My favorite of these booths is Stella’s. Whenever I go to the farmers’ market with my boyfriend, we love to hit Stella’s up first and grab a loaf of their famous Hot & Spicy Cheese Bread to nosh on as we walk the square. They have an array of other Artisan breads and tasty empanadas. Their muffins, cookies, and other pastries are also divine. In the autumn months, I’m a fan of their pumpkin muffins and bars.

Another item you should be sure to pick up at the farmers’ market is a bouquet of flowers. There is nothing more beautiful and cheerful than a vase of fresh flowers sitting on your desk or kitchen counter during the week. A beautiful array of blooms in my living space always manages to perk me up. With so many gorgeous flowers available, you have a seemingly endless supply of options for a very low price tag. If you need some inspiration of how to arrange your flowers,below is a round up of spring arrangements, some of which are ideal for the coming Easter holiday.

 

The farmers’ market does run from 6am-2pm, but you may be asking yourself when the best time to go is. If you want the most variety and best pickings, go early in the morning. If you want the best deals, go later in the day. When the farmers’ market is getting ready to close for the weekend, vendors will typically slash prices or give you extra produce with your purchase because they don’t want to be stuck bringing anything home with them. The middle of the day is typically the busiest, so if you don’t like crowds, steer clear during peak hours.

Grab a friend and head on down to the farmers’ market this weekend. Make it a weekend ritual. This habit will quickly become one of your favorite activities that you will spend all week looking forward to.

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