By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Whether a veteran of an Arizona farmers’ market or trying one out for the first time this coming weekend, Arizona Farm Bureau with the help of Denise Logan, farmers’ market manager for Arizona Community Farmers’ Markets, provides a series of practical tips to enhance your Farmers’ market experience.

Editor’s note: Advice on Farmer’s Market Shopping is also available on Fill Your Plate. A more comprehensive version of this article is on Fill Your Plate’s Nutrition News.

  1. Come early. For best selection of produce, arrive first thing so that you have first choice on the variety of produce you’ll see at your farmers’ market.
  2. Bring change and small bills. Though more and more markets are set up to take credit cards, carrying cash is a must.
  3. Talk to the growers. Ask the grower what's new and how do they use their product (any recipes?). In fact, a farmers’ market is probably the best environment to chat with your farmers and ranchers. They want to share their stories and they love to explain their production methods. You’ll be surprised at the invaluable information on even the most common fruits and vegetables.
  4. Ask about safety protocols. As the growers you meet if they have employed any safety practices to ensure the safety of their produce. Many growers engage in what is known in the industry as “best management practices” that include methods for keeping their produce free from pathogens in the harvesting and packing process.
  5. Bring your own bags. Some growers also recycle shopping bags. But remember to wash your bags regularly
  6. Bring a cooler. Some smart produce shoppers bring a cooler on wheels to keep the produce fresh until it gets home.
  7. Dress for the weather. Arizona summers are hot so wear cool clothes, a hat and sunscreen. Also bring drinking water. In Winter, well, it’s just beautiful!
  8. Decompress and Mingle! Finally markets are a great way to decompress and mingle with your neighbors!

Another fun things to plan on is determining what's in season in Arizona before you go to a farmer's market. Arizona farmers markets, certainly those open year around, will have something local that's in season. To discover what grows what month, go to Fill Your Plate's "Arizona Produce in Season" section.

Regardless, you'll have fun at our Arizona farmers markets if you plan ahead. Looking for that unique variety of arugula or beets? Love vine ripened tomatoes? Want to meet a farmer? Then it's time to plan on visiting one of Arizona's nearly 100 farmers markets throughout the state!