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Make the most of farmers’ markets all year long – here’s how!

Is there anything better than starting your Saturday with a stroll through your local farmers’ market? Nova Scotia is lucky to be home to dozens of markets, in communities big and small, across the province.

If you’d like to support your local economy, improve food security in your area, and experience new and delicious ways of connecting with your community, shopping at a farmer’s market is a terrific option.

Of course, it’s easy to make the most of your local market in the summer time, when farms and market gardens are at their peak and new and different produce is available each week. It can be a little more challenging during the cold-weather months, when fresh greens are scarce and it seems like potatoes, carrots and turnips are the only option. But with some research and some menu planning, you can enjoy local produce all year round.

Think ahead
One way to make the market more approachable is to write a list of the foods you love and see if and when they’re available at the market. Farmers’ Markets Nova Scotia has created a number of resources that will help you make the most of your market year round, including a comprehensive list of seasonal foods and a free, downloadable cookbook full of recipes featuring seasonal produce.

Look for easy substitutes
If you’re used to buying everything in one big trip to the supermarket or big box store, it can be challenging to shift your habits to buying produce at the market. Start small and consider buying just one or two items – things that you know you love, like fresh local strawberries or apples, or something new, like salad turnips or kohlrabi. As you get to know your local vendors and see what they have in stock, you can expand your list.

Set an alarm
Going to the farmers’ market at a peak time can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming. Get there early to avoid the rush, have the best selection of produce and avoid sensory overload. Then you’ll have a full day to enjoy your purchases. If you’re not an early riser but you want to get the most fun out of your trip, take a look at the calendar and plan your farmers’ market adventure to coincide with a special event.

Get the whole family involved
Kids love tagging along on farmers’ market adventures – and no more relying on screen time to fill those early morning weekend hours. Involving your kids in food shopping helps build long-lasting good habits. Consider letting them plan a meal, write the shopping list or choose one new item to try each week. If a child in your household received one of the Nova Scotia Loyal $10 farmers’ market vouchers at the end of the school year, the whole adventure will be even more fun.

Happy marketing!

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