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Finding Farmers’ Markets When You Least Expect It

Shopping at farmers’ markets is a perfect way to reduce waste and support your local community. Skipping the grocery store to travel to a farmers’ market might not be realistic for many families, however, particularly if you don’t live near one. But… if you get to know the farmers’ markets in your neck of the woods, you might just be able to scoop up some local, zero waste goodness on occasion when you happen to be in the area. 

After baking our pumpkins and using the puree to make cookies and muffins, I kicked around the idea of baking enough pumpkin to freeze and carry us through to next season’s pumpkin harvest. Then I got stuck thinking about where to buy that many pumpkins. All the pumpkin sales ended around Halloween. They would probably be really big if I found them at stores (and these aren’t really the best for baking anyway). Aren’t they way more expensive than a can of pumpkin anyway?! Forget it.

The next day, as we drove home from hockey practice, J asked if we could make more homemade pizza sauce because our first batch was so good! (I’ll be sharing the recipe soon). I told him yes and mentally added a bag of tomatoes to my grocery list. Not five minutes after his request, we drove past a farmers’ market that’s open all summer. I assumed it was closed for the season but noticed piles of pumpkins outside the stand.

Despite driving past it, I took my first opportunity to turn around and headed right back to investigate. Turns out, at the close of the season, they keep self-serve counters open, filled with discounted produce and remaining seasonal items. They had pumpkins and tomatoes! 

On a whim, we bought:

  • 14 small-medium pumpkins ($0.50 each)
  • A bag of 10-12 small squash ($3.00 total)
  • A box of about 20 heads of garlic ($2.00)
  • 2 acorn squash ($0.50 each)
  • 18 large tomatoes ($0.50 each)
  • One bag of potatoes ($2.00)

They had a small cash box to collect payment, and we dropped our money in the box. It was so perfect (especially because I often have no cash). 

We got so much great, local food that will produce zero waste and prevent the last of the farm’s harvest from going to waste. What a serendipitous score!

I don’t always rely on farmer’s markets because they are often inconvenient. They’re far from my house and many have short hours. I have, however, researched the market around me so I can stop by when I’m in the area during open hours.

In this case, my research paid off! I mixed in a bit of luck with my farmers’ market reconnaissance and landed on a bounty of zero waste fall deliciousness. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good!

Cheers to a great zero waste win. 

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