Farmers Markets – A Welcome Sign Of Summer

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Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.36.05 PMBy Christy Vanderwende Wright, Little Wagon Produce

A welcome sign of summer is farmers markets; many of which began in May. Little Wagon Produce has been busy as a vendor at three – the Milton Farmer’s Market on Friday afternoon, the Riverwalk Farmers Market in downtown Milford every Saturday morning, and the Western Sussex Farmer’s Market in Seaford every Saturday morning.

The turnout at the Riverwalk Farmers Market this year has been excellent. Live music and many new vendors have complimented the market. The weather has been delightful and the grove of trees on the Riverwalk provides refreshing shade. We appreciate the loyalty of Milford patrons year after year. We also appreciate many questions and concerns from long time customers on the passing of my grandfather, Robert E. Messick. He loved the market and accompanied my Mom for over 14 years-when she first began attending as a vendor.

Many of our customers ask the same question each year, which is “Do you have sweet corn yet?” The answer is YES! It has been a long wait since much of the summer produce was a week late due to the extremely cold winter and spring temperatures. However, we currently have our own yellow squash, zucchini, sweet corn, string beans, kale, green tomatoes, and peppers. We will soon have red tomatoes, watermelons, and lopes. I try to remind customers that farmers are always at the mercy of Mother Nature and gas prices have had a significant effect on the price of fruits and vegetables this year. Farmers are starting to irrigate crops as well, which require fuel costs. Keep in mind, vendors at your local farmers markets have fuel costs, too, and often put a lot of time and attention into picking and packing the day before the market.

Here are some more tidbits to help you be “Farmers Market Ready” this summer:

Bring cash! Many vendors are small businesses and cannot afford the fees accompanied with credit card machines.

Bring your own bags! The recyclable grocery bags work great for this! By doing this, you will help the environment and help us because plastic bags are an additional expense to vendors that we usually do not pass on to the customers. We even have to pay more and go out of the way to find heavy-duty plastic bags to hold a dozen ears of sweet corn (and they still don’t hold a dozen ears well).

Bring a friend! Word of mouth is the best marketing for us! The Riverwalk Farmer’s Market is every Saturday from 9am-1pm.

Don’t be afraid to ask! Many markets have an information booth or a “Market Manager” to oversee the routine each week. Some markets even have a bell that rings before you can sell anything (Milton).

Spread the love! Hopefully you will find more than one vendor to patronize. In Milford, many new vendors have been added to the Market and there are many wonderful downtown businesses such as Dolce Coffee Shop, Blooming Boutique, Sugar Bee Candy Store, Eco Chic, and Georgia House Restaurant.

Bring your smile! Many vendors love to talk and engage their customers, including us.

Stay updated! Many think the market is canceled because of rain but we are almost always open. Check to see if your local market has a Facebook page and/or website for updates.

Thank you to all our loyal customers who already know the ropes. And for all the newbies, Little Wagon Produce hopes to see you soon. Be sure to check out the Department of Agriculture’s new “Buy Local” website for a farmer’s market near you at www.de.gov/buylocal.

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