Guest post by Molly Madonna Kehrer
I don’t remember exactly when I fell in love with our local farmer’s market, but ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you where to find me on a Wednesday morning.
I can’t help it. Once mid-May rolls around (and straight through the fall), it’s a fixed event on the calendar. I love everything about the market, and if you’re not already sold on one in your area, I hope to have you convinced to make a trip before I’m through.
For six plus months out of the year (and more if you live somewhere warmer than Michigan), local farmer’s markets provide some of the very best products and produce around.
Not only are they thoughtfully, sustainably, and often organically grown, they’re cultivated within a small enough radius that we can eat “where we live” for at least half of the year–more if I get creative with chopping, prepping and stocking our freezer.
I’ve tried my hand at gardening a little here and there, and I hope to hone my green thumb more as our family grows, but outside of growing our food in our own backyard, nothing beats handfuls of veggies and fruits from our farmer friends at the market.
Now that we have two little ones in tow, every trip to the market is an adventure in color, taste, and texture.
The kiddos have lots of questions and are always pointing out something I would have otherwise missed. It’s delightful to watch them explore!
On our weekly trips, I try to make sure there’s opportunity for a lesson or two, interaction with new faces, and something new in our basket to take us out of our comfort zone.
I’ve thought a lot about why taking our kids to the market is so important to me, and here’s why I recommend it as a family outing on a regular basis.
Why Our Family Goes To The Farmers Market Every Week:
1. Rain or shine, it’s a reliable outdoor activity.
Farmers don’t discriminate based on weather (unless it’s dangerous, of course), so we can always count on it as a go-to activity, no matter what’s happening outside.
When other plans would be otherwise cancelled, we just pack our umbrellas and throw on coats and rain boots. Then, we enjoy fewer crowds and more time to talk with the growers and farmers as we wander.
2. It’s community-based and people who frequent are like-minded.
I’ve never met a grumpy person at the market. It’s as though we’ve all come to slow down and savor, and in doing so, something wonderful happens in our interactions.
We regularly run into friends, turning market mornings into impromptu play dates and time for moms to connect.
If the food trucks are out, a morning market trip might carry right on through until nap time. There are so many possibilities when we arrive with no agenda but to savor what we find.
3. Transactions are always teachable moments for our kiddos.
They’re still quite small, so it’s fun to guide our kids through a purchase–selecting the right produce or goods, making conversation with the people at each stand, counting out bills and change to make a purchase, and using manners as we come and go.
I love the look on my son’s face when he’s chosen his own food, paid for it, and been polite through the exchange. There’s a tangible sense of accomplishment for everyone in this scenario.
4. We learn what’s in season, and then we eat in season, too.
At this time of year in the Midwest, produce is really peaking with some of our favorites…fresh herbs have been available for weeks now, blueberries, cherries and peaches are in full swing, and greens, onions and peppers are coloring up salad bowls at the dinner table.
Apples are around the corner, and we’ve just enjoyed a run of strawberries, asparagus and peas to round out some amazing summer options.
As we head into the fall, we’ll stock up on squash, potatoes, kale, beets, pumpkin and other grounding foods that are amazing for soups and the warmer dishes we begin to crave when summer wanes.
5. We gain inspiration.
Whenever I wander the market, there are flowers and seedlings and plantings galore. There’s something for the kitchen table, the patio table, the front porch, the garden…all kinds of life-filled and life-giving inspiration for color, decoration and growth in our own home and yard.
Earlier this summer, we picked out our favorite herbs and a few colorful blossoms to plant together in large pots for the front porch.
Now every time I open the front door, I’m greeted with orange, red, purple, green…and basil, mint, cilantro and lavender, too. Not only was it fun to pick out plants to bring home, but it made for a wonderfully peaceful afternoon, potting plants with our oldest while the littler one napped.
I love that Henry could participate in the process of selecting, buying, planting and now growing/tending our front porch garden, and the farmer’s market made it possible.
6. No question is too silly.
When I go to the market, I don’t always know what to do with a huge bunch of rhubarb or where to plant my new perennials. No problem! The growers are always happy to assist, and with a smile on their faces and an extra tip or two for my back pocket, to boot.
Buying directly from the source at the market means I get to know exactly where it came from, how it was grown, who did the hard work, and how to best enjoy the fruits of their labor– literally!
7. When we buy local, we support local, and the options are amazing.
I never feel limited in my buying choices at the market. There are ten or more options for each fruit or vegetable on my list.
Beyond that, there’s honey. Gorgeous bouquets. Gourmet chocolates. Popcorn. Maple syrup. Amazing pastas, breads, baked goods, coffee. My mouth is watering just thinking about it all. Sauces, meat, fish, cheeses, savory pies…and we live in a smallish town!
I love that we can support local farmers and artisans in one place, where everyone is celebrating the beauty of food and products made from the place we all call home.
8. It’s a hop, skip and a jump away.
Because we live in town, we can walk, ride bikes, or drive to the market. There’s not a single day I’d rather tackle the grocery store instead of wander down to the farmer’s market in the sunshine with my family.
No shopping cart, no coupons, no fuss. Just the stroller and a basket or bag or two and we’re good to go.
I realize I can’t buy everything at the market, but it’s often enough to tide us over for a few more days or to avoid going to the store save for essentials once or twice a month.
Really, I’ve grown a lot (pun intended) over the years as I’ve learned to make the most of our farmer’s market.
Not just because I now know what to do with a rutabaga, but because I’ve learned more about myself and what I love–healthy, nutrition-dense foods straight from the source, the color and sights and sounds of the market, rain or shine, and the weekly opportunity to experience it all alongside our babies, who are growing up to know and love the market, too.
Here’s to summer trips that yield tables full of gorgeous goods, fresh from their source, and here’s to whatever loveliness you might discover at your farmer’s market as you explore!
Molly Madonna Kehrer, CD (DONA) is a certified doula and stay at home mama to two wildly amazing kiddos, Henry (4) and Eloise (2). She is passionate about serving and empowering families in pregnancy and birth, loves nourishing and caring for her own babies, craves authentic friendship, and longs to find more hours in the day to write. When life permits, Molly shares her thoughts on motherhood and life at mollymadonna.com. While she loves to travel the world and misses ministry abroad, Molly finds great contentment alongside her husband, Jason, and family near the lovely shores of Lake Michigan, and is delighted to serve a most Holy Creator in the daily.