How to Save Money at the Farmers' Market

If you’ve never been to a nearby farmers’ market, check LocalHarvest.org to see if you have one nearby! It’s worth the trip actually getting your produce (and sometimes meat or other goods like jams, honey, and bread) straight from its source, getting to know the people who make it and knowing you’re putting money back into the local economy. Here are a few tips to make the most of your cash the next time you visit the market.

Sleep in! Most farmers’ markets operate from the morning to early afternoon. If you go later in the morning, in the last hour or so, you can often find better deals, as the individual vendors are looking to finish up that day’s sales without having to take much back.

Shop in season. The same is true of shopping at the grocery store, but if you only buy produce in season, the prices will be much less inexpensive. For a generous listing of what is in season month-by-month for your area, click here.

Stay away from the prettiest selection. Think about what you’ll be using your produce for. If you’re turning tomatoes into sauce or julienning your zucchini or making a smoothie with those strawberries, you don’t need the prettiest of all the produce! We’re not saying buy anything that looks hazardously different—but if there’s anything oddly-shaped, maybe slightly more ripe, or different from the other produce around it, tell the vendor you’d be happy to pick that particular item if they’d knock a bit off the price. Most are happy to comply!

Make friends! When you’ve found a vendor or stall you like, keep returning to them whenever you come by. Talk with the growers and sellers, ask for recommendations or ask questions about the produce. Encourage your kids to ask questions about growing the produce. And smile! Even if you never trade names, the familiar smile of a satisfied customer can mean the difference between paying full-price and a few friendly discounts or free goods!

Share your tips for saving money at the farmers’ markets.

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9 Comments
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Mary C.
Some people at farmers markets are some times willing to trade too. If you grow some o your own food take some and see if anyone will trade or do a partial trade with you while you pay some money. Also go to vendors with a lot left towards the end, some are willing to give it up free, discounted like stated above. I know this first hand. Was given $30 of fruits, berries and nut for $10, because the vendor was closing and my boyfriend use to work for them, while the new guy was the one working the booth and they did not know each other they got along and he gave us a bigger discount.
Paula J.
Good tips. I was recently debating whether to "sleep in" and get the better price deals or get up early for the best selection. You do end up trading one for the other often.
Sue D.
I agree, the early bird gets the worm regarding choices and selection. Having said that, I've noticed sometimes the ripest fruit is sold first and on many occasions I have been dissatisfied with the bruising and inability to keep the fruit more then a couple days. I still prefer to shop at local farmers markets because there is nothing like native fresh food.
Robin B.
Those are good tips! We have a local Farmer's Market and I haven't gone to it yet. I was planning to this week. I have my own garden, but I've been told they have a great variety of things.
Stefanie S.
I love shopping at Farmer's Markets for fresh fruits and veggies, so thanks for the tips. I never knew I could save more by going later, I will try it.
Susan H.
I love asking for discounts, but my husband (the cook) thinks he's taking advantage of people. He'd rather pay full price for something. I try not to shop with him when I'm feeling frugal!
Susan G.
Never considered going late to the Farmer's Market. Thanks for the tip!
Lynn S.
Some of the best deals I've ever come across has been near the end of their day. I was leaving when I remembered I forgot to get peppers. I went back to a stand and asked if they had any peppers left. He came back with a grocery bag filled about 3/4 of the way with various sizes of green peppers. When I asked how much, I was figuring he was going to say $5.00 or more, which was more than I wanted to pay. He thought for a second and said, well, it's the end of the day, how about a dollar? I thought I heard wrong. I felt like I had won the lottery! I went home and spent the next 2 hours, cutting, slicing, dicing them in 2 cup portions and then used my favorite kitchen appliance, the food sealer and packaged them all up for future use.
Deborah T.
Sadly, because of urban sprawl, most of the farmer's markets are gone away in the Phoenix area. I will definitely have to check out the site you listed and see if I can find one close:)