Farmer’s markets. Fresh food. Friends and neighbors. Childlike fun.
We moved into our new-to-us-home four years ago, the first year the winery around the corner piloted its seasonal farmer’s market. From May to November, walking with our little red wagon — complete with trailer — to the Saturday market has become a family tradition.
We meet friends and neighbors. We visit with farmers who have become friends. The kids balance on beams and race in the grass near the gazebo and grapevines. We sample fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as tamales and hummus and berry pie.
Visiting the farmer’s market has sparked some interesting discussions about where food comes from. The boys understand that farmers grow the food we buy at the farmer’s market. They’ve even visit and picked fruit at local fruit orchards. Still, I don’t think they connect the food we buy at the grocery store with the growers. It’s an ongoing discussion. Recently we talked about how different foods grow best during different seasons; Trader Joe’s was no longer carrying California Cuties (mandarins) and organic apples since they are out of season.
There are some great books available to start a conversation about food with your children. One of the best I’ve seen is How Did That Get in My Lunchbox: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth. Children learn where lunchbox staples like bread, cheese and juice come from. If you simply want a food celebration, check out two of April Pulley Sayre’s latest releases: Rah Rah Radishes and Go Go Grapes.
You can also turn a visit to the farmer’s market into a game if you are worried about keeping little ones occupied. How about creating a farmer’s market bingo card? Find pictures of seasonal foods your child will find at the market and arrange them five across and five down on card stock. You could cut and paste pictures from magazines or do this in a word processing program. Let your child bring a marker and cross out foods he finds at the market. The first one to get bingo wins a prize, for example a fruit or vegetable of his choice.
Do you have a local farmer’s market? What are some of your favorite experiences?