Farmer’s Market Challenge, Weeks #1 and #2

I feel so fortunate to live in a community where there is an abundance of local, small farmers and numerous farmers’ markets to choose from throughout the week. This season, I won’t be able to frequent my favorite market on Thursdays as much due to my work schedule, but that could prove fruitful in a way because it forces me to patronize farms directly and to visit other markets in different locations and at other times.

We participate in a points-based CSA that we use primarily for meat “purchases,” and we try to make it a habit to frequent farms and markets for fruit and vegetable needs. However, one of the things we struggle with is keeping purchases in check–if we go into a market hungry and lacking a budget, we end up buying produce we often don’t use which goes to waste and hurts our wallet.

There’s also a perception that buying local is expensive–and I admit that it is in some communities. However, I’m not convinced that this is the case in most towns. I truly think that finding food from trustworthy sources can be doable even on a tight budget (and ours is definitely tight since my husband lost his full-time job in April).

I decided that our family would set a $15 cash budget each week that can be utilized at either farmers’ markets or at actual farm stands within our community, and that we would document our results. If anyone else is game, I’d love to see what you can find with the same budget in your own area. I’m hoping that our “challenge” will help motivate others to look locally when shopping for food, while helping us to curb waste and control our finances.

Last week, in the first week of our challenge, I found a quart of strawberries at a beloved local farm for $4.25. I also discovered that a smaller market exists “on the bricks” outside of the railway station where I work, and there I found a head of lettuce for $3.00, a bundle of green onions for $2.00, and two handmade soaps (sweet citrus and one that is a coffee scrub) for $6.00, bringing our total to $15.75. That’s a hair over our $15 budget for the week, but I was comfortable with it.

(Ignore the grainy cell phone camera quality of the picture…this is a photo of the haul from the market where I work.)

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This week, for the second week of our challenge, I’ve gone under budget. I purchased a jar of homemade salsa at the market on Tuesdays at our local shopping mall. The salsa was $5. Then, a friend shared information with me about another local farm that I had yet to visit that is near the regional hospital–there we found another head of lettuce for $2.00 (it was HUGE), and I snagged another quart of strawberries for $4.00, bringing the week’s total to $11. I might put back the extra $4 for next week.

Pictures of some of the goodies from the last two weeks:

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Anyone else with me for this “challenge?” 🙂

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