Let's just take a tour through a sample farmers market. We'll choose a scenario in the South as an example just to get you thinking.
Here we go.
Farmers markets are mostly outdoors in the South, or possibly in several tents or shelters, but with sides wide open. There may or may not be a single entry point. Either way, the masses of people arrive usually pretty early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. Shoppers descent on the booths and the farmers just after daybreak. You're right there with the swarm, making the chicory coffee tent your first destination.
As you make your way into the line of tents, you see people bartering over the prices, learning techniques on how to skillfully pick the ripest produce off the vine. You see the samples of honey, salsa of all types, and fruit preserves being tasted and swooned over. The sun is up now and shining bright, but a cool breeze is blowing, thankfully. “Turned out to be a pretty nice day,” is commonly exclaimed by the farmers. The fall season offers a break from the heat, and any break from the heat is a “pretty nice day.” At this point, you have to decide which way to go, so you look and decide to follow the crowd.
You don't get far before you notice the aromas. You take a deep breath and enjoy. Depending on the season, you're treated to the smells of fresh fruit like cantaloupes, peaches, strawberries, and watermelon. Suddenly you feel extremely hungry. You begin to check out the offerings, hoping for samples now. You aren't disappointed. There's a display of cut up cantaloupe. And there's a peach with a knife stuck in it, meant for you to help yourself. It looks like there are little spoons next to the honey and salsa display. Bingo!
You realize you've been sampling a bit too much and decide to buy some honey before you move on. There are other tables that draw your attention now with an array of gorgeous colors and aromas. You begin to move through the market. You now spot the deep eggplant purples, the Swiss chard red and greens, and the pale mix of creamy white and yellow of the corn on the cob. Then you see the beautiful colors of the bins and bins of pumpkins, squash, fall beans, potatoes, beets, and onions. And then there are the greens; collards, kale, mustard, beet greens. You turn the corner and the air is thick with a blend of aromas from the rows and rows of fresh herbs. Now your arms are loaded with an array of colors and aromas, promising flavors beyond compare. You could linger longer just to let your senses enjoy, but, it's time to continue exploring, and sampling.
On your trip around the tents, you come across some rather unique stations. One farmer is selling everything dairy you could possibly think of including homemade butter, raw milk, and soft cheeses. He offers you a taste of the chocolate milk he is selling and amazingly it tastes like liquid pudding in a cup. Now you notice another merchant who is making fresh kettle corn. He picks up his little paddle and begins to make circular movements in a large black kettle. Suddenly, kernels come popping out as he stirs faster and faster. This may be the perfect snack right now.
You find more of a variety of products than you could ever imagine, from homemade soaps, natural cosmetics, garden decorations, and handmade jewelry and accessories. There is one tent that has handmade organic cotton baby clothes. There is a woman at another tent selling rag rugs she made using her grandmother's patterns. If you can imagine it, you'll probably find it. You wander into another section and you are met with a wall of canned goods. Now you're exhausted. You're only halfway through the market. Do you leave or continue your journey? One more tent, just one more. Then you hear popping in the background and make your way towards the noise and find a farmer freshly grinding grits and cornmeal. These are the things you didn't really plan to see. What's next? Will your pocketbook be able to handle the surprises?
You've exhausted yourself and your supply of cash. You finally head back out to the car with your bags of goods and examine the spoils you came away with. A half gallon of that delicious chocolate milk, a small bag of kettle corn, a couple cantaloupes, a jar of honey, some peaches, collard greens, potatoes, carrots, okra, and even a bar of homemade soap.
Oh yes, you will definitely be back. Maybe you should measure that spot you've been thinking of putting a rug. You never know what you'll find at the farmers market.