May 16, 2016
The rising popularity of farmers markets come at a time when more consumers want fresh, local foods. Even busy farmers may find themselves making a run to the farmers market sometimes too. In Montana, the rise of farmers markets has created the need for a listing of the programs around the state.
The new 2016 directory is now available online, offering users the chance to find nearby markets to buy fresh produce and other products as needed.
GOING FRESH: The farmers market has become a valued source of fresh produce for many. Montana has released its 2016 state directory. (Photo: suzanmarinkovic/Thinkstock)
Ron de Yong, director of the Montana Department of Agriculture, comments: "I encourage Montanans and visitors to our state to experience local farmers markets and support Montana farmers and ranchers. Farmers markets are a perfect showcase of the high quality of products we grow and produce, while providing an additional revenue stream for producers who participate."
The department offers five ways to make the most of the farmers market experience:
Get to know your farmer. One of the greatest benefits of shopping at a farmers market is that you have the opportunity to get to know and build a relationship with the producers.
Bring your family/friends and take your time. Farmers markets are a great chance to spend time with family and friends in the Montana sunshine, taking in the carnival-like atmosphere as people circulate around the booths and local musicians play.
Go early...or go late. The best selection and most popular items are often available at the beginning of the day, while the best deals may occur later in the day when vendors discount items so they don’t have to haul them home.
Experiment and get advice. Don't be afraid to try something new. If you find a vegetable that's new to you, ask the farmer how to prepare it. For the best tips, specifically ask how they like to eat it. Look online for new recipe ideas.
Bring your own bags and coolers. Although some farmers market vendors have bags and boxes, it's easiest if you bring your own reusable bags with handles – and it also reduces waste. Coolers with ice packs in your vehicle keep your refrigerated products fresh and at their peak.
The rising interest in farmers markets do help connect consumers to farmers; for commercial farms the farmers market is also a valuable source of produce until your own garden comes up. Many who produce for farmers markets use greenhouses and other technology to get a jump on the season.
Source: Montana Department of Agriculture
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