Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme may be lyrics to a Simon and Garfunkel song but they are also found at your local Farmer’s Market. Since the Garden State is filled with family-owned farms and small businesses, a fabulous place to bring your children for learning about healthy food and expand their awareness of produce is a Farmers Market.
Opening up in the spring, Farmers Markets populate each county and offer families unique experiences. We love the variety of vegetables and the ability to sample new foods as well as the interesting visit from food trucks or animal shelters. Here are our reasons why we encourage you to take a trip to a few Farmers Markets this season
Learn About Food:
No matter the age of your child, there is knowledge to be acquired by visiting a Farmers Market. For young children, they are developing an understanding of farming. As children get older, they develop an increased awareness of different produce, cheese and sometimes even olives!
Sample New Food:
Some vendors have free samples or taste testings which encourages children to try new foods, ingredients, and flavors. Did you know not all carrots are orange? Experiment by bringing home a new food each trip and don’t forget to ask for recommendations from the farmers on recipes.
Meet the Farmers:
By children meeting the farmers, they are developing an appreciation of the work required to grow these plants as well as being exposed to a unique career. I never know the questions my children will ask, but since traveling they have become curious investigators. Encourage children to talk to the individuals working at the Farmers Market as you don’t know what they might learn.
Learn about Farming:
If your kids are unfamiliar with gardening, this would be a perfect time to discuss how the fruits and vegetables came to be at the market. Most growers would be happy to spend a short amount of time talking with kids about their products. As well, children will also be exposed to how farming varies. Within New Jersey, farming can refer to sunflowers, cranberries, and corn.
While some Farmers Markets will sell pastries and cupcakes, these are all freshly made. However, there is an invitation for them to eat more fruits and vegetables. Pick up some fresh and healthy fruit for snacks for the week!
Investing in the Community:
By making a purchase, your money goes directly to supporting local farms and small businesses. Farms are usually family owned, so your purchase is directly supporting families. This is a great discussion to have with your children about supporting local and small businesses. Buying local promotes a sense of pride and investment in our community.
Seasons of Meals:
For those who shop at the food store, strawberries can be available all year with varying cost; however, there are specific seasons for this fruit. Exposing children to locally produced food increases their awareness of the seasons of meals. When a particular produce is in season, it tastes divine. Enhancing their understanding of this will impact healthier eating habits as they get older.
Some Farmers Markets offer story times for children as well as arts and crafts. Not all Markets offer this wonderful space for children, but that is part of the fun investigating. Some Markets will have music, animal shelters or rescue groups, or other activities that will appeal to your young children.
Just as fruits have a season, so do local Farmers Markets which usually open up in the spring and close in the fall. Bringing children to the Farmers Markets creates family memories. When the family gathers around the BBQ to enjoy the sweet corn or eat peach cobbler for dessert, all of these ingredients can be selected together and enjoyed as a family. The invitation to make family memories is at your local Farmers Market!