How to Buy at a Farmer’s Market From a Former Seller


Although I always strongly recommend growing for yourself whenever possible, there are plenty of reasons why even a determined prepper might need to resort to buying fresh produce at the local market. We’re all busy with work and family, gardening requires space and time to come to fruition, and the list goes on. Thankfully, farmer’s market produce is still excellent for eating either fresh that evening or over the course of years once its been canned, and in many cases by buying locally you’ll be supporting other self-sufficient people to continue their lives. Drawing on my experience as a former vendor at my own local market, I’m going to give you the helpful tips that should aid you in finding good deals and steering clear of sub-optimal produce.

What you can find at a market

Depending on the size and number of customers who show up there on a regular basis, markets can vary widely in the kinds of goods available. One small market might only have 5-10 vendors with a generous smattering of popular garden vegetables, while a larger one might have stands selling grass-fed beef, lamb, and pork in addition to honey and even cloth woods such as wool. Generally speaking the larger the population nearby and the better the location the more “exotic” the goods, since anything beyond produce and honey usually requires additional facilities like refrigeration or heating that can require expensive permits and licensing. Here is a quick list of things I recommend you look for from a preparedness point of view:

  • Of course, fruits and veggies. If you grow whatever is common or easy to grow in your area already, look for a farming operation that takes the time to grow more difficult or space/work intensive produce. For example, a few friends of mine made a killing one year selling strawberries they had painstakingly watered in the midst of record drought. These same people had blueberries (difficult to grow in our soil) and apples and cherries available. Try out different varieties and see which ones you like before investing literally years worth of time and effort growing a cherry tree or a row of blueberry bushes! Remember that you can always can what you buy, so stocking up is a definite possibility as well.Grass-fed meats are common at many farmer’s markets.
  • Grass-fed meats, particularly pork and beef. Not only can these be canned for future use, but you may also be able to speak with them about purchasing spare fat from butchering. Fat is great for candles, soap-making, and as a replacement for vegetable oils in an emergency. It can also be canned! Furthermore, fresh meat like this will help get your digestive system used to the “feel” of meat that hasn’t been thoroughly fattened and fed only on grains.
  • Honey. We’ve discussed honey’s many uses over and over so you can imagine how useful honey can be to a prepper. Furthermore, honey vendors often sell candles and other products made of beeswax that keep for a long time and could be useful in an emergency as well.
  • Early in the year, sprouts and younger plants for your own garden. Unlike the ones from the local Wal-Mart greenhouse, at a farmer’s market you can often have the chance to try growing certain unique heirloom varieties and taste the fruit you grew yourself. If you have trouble getting seeds to grow to full maturity, this is definitely a good option!
  • Bread and pastries. Not only are these very tasty, but you can often take the time to speak with them about bread-making techniques and possibly find out where they source the grains they use. If you elect to make your own bread in future, their experience could be a gold mine.

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