Video: How to shop a farmers market like a pro – even if you've never been to one

When to go, what to bring, and what to expect?

We're coming upon farmers market season in the Twin Cities.

Some have already opened for business – but come June, there will be more than 30 up and running across the metro.

But if you've only dabbled in farmers markets, or never even been, they can be a little intimidating. So we went down to the Minneapolis Farmers Markets to get some shopping tips from the pros.

When to go

We spoke to several vendors on a Thursday afternoon, and all of them recommend coming on a weekend if it's your first time.

That's because on weekends, there's a lot more variety. Areas are packed full with vendors and it feels like its own little community, several produce sellers and shoppers explained.

If crowds aren't your thing, the Minneapolis Farmers Market is open daily until 1 p.m.

Weekdays – which is when GoMN went along – there are still several vendors and a handful of shoppers.

"It's not as hectic as on the weekends," said Barry Brooks, owner of K & B Gardens. "You'll have a pretty good variety."

What to bring

Heading to a farmers market is a little different from heading to the super market.

Vendors aren't guaranteed to take credit or debit cards, so it's best to bring some cash.

You might also want to bring your own shopping bags. Some vendors currently supply them – but that could change this summer with a new Minneapolis law banning plastic bags and requiring retailers to charge customers for paper ones.

What to expect

One point every single vendor emphasized was how fresh the food is.

It's mostly local – coming straight from the ground or tree to the market.

That means, you shouldn't go in May or June expecting to load up on zucchini or carrots. The food available is seasonal.

In the spring, there are a lot of plants if you'd like to grow your own produce or flowers. Berries will be very popular later this summer – but you'll have to wait a little longer for things like squash and corn. Those really won't be ready until closer to fall.

And lastly – prepare to come back.

Most vendors have been doing this for years, some since they were kids. They see people visit, then return again and again.

"Once people start coming to the farmers market, they get pretty hooked," said Gina Nelson, owner of Dave Nelson Greenhouse. "You're getting fresh, local stuff from your neighbors."

Get out there

Now you're as prepared as you'll ever be, so it's time to get out there.

Minneapolis has made farmers market shopping super easy with an interactive map. You can learn more about that here.

And here's the schedule for the Minneapolis markets and the St. Paul markets.

Good luck!

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