Jun 11, 2024

WINKEL: Farmer’s market season, shop local

Posted Jun 11, 2024 9:15 AM

Cottonwood Extension District

Farmer’s market season has arrived, and if you’re anything like me, strolling past vendors with an array of fresh produce and homemade goods is a refreshing way to shop. Fresh fruits and vegetables, local honey, and canned goods are just a few products that draw me to the market, but there are multiple reasons why shopping at the farmer’s market is a good choice for the entire community.

· Fresh produce. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are often picked later, full of color, and packed with nutrients. Compared to produce picked thousands of miles away, local foods are harvested at peak ripeness. This can contribute to nutrient-dense produce that is full of flavor! If you or a loved one is picky when it comes to vegetables, experimenting with farm fresh produce is a great way to reintroduce foods that may taste better than superstore options.

· Support the local economy. When you shop at the farmer’s market, your money stays in the community. You support small businesses and the vendors who work to provide such valuable goods.

· Safer food. Produce is typically sustainably grown, and consumers can learn about farming methods. If you are concerned about the use of pesticides and herbicides, the opportunity to ask questions may give you peace of mind. Plus, food from the farmer’s market can be a safer option while mass disease outbreaks are more likely to occur in industrial settings.

· Cultivate healthy behaviors. Taking children to the market can spark interest in healthy eating behaviors and teach them how food is grown. Exposure to the farmer’s market can inspire children (and adults) to make new foods, create a handmade craft, or plant a garden.

Now that you’re ambitious to shop local, make sure to stop by the Great Bend Summer Street Stroll Market at Jack Kilby Square on Thursdays from 4-7 pm. Fresh produce, honey, art, and handmade crafts are the focus of this market, and local vendors are available from May to October. Or, if you’re in the Hays area, stop by 110 E 10th St. on Saturday mornings from 7:30- 11 am. Customers can shop for weekly groceries, find unique gifts made by local artisans, and enjoy musical talents.

The Senior Nutrition Farmer’s Market Program is available in both locations. Those 60 and older can receive vouchers to purchase produce from participating vendors. Contact the Barton County Health Department or the Cottonwood Extension office in Hays to see if you qualify.

Karissa Winkel is the Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at: 620-793-1910 or [email protected].