Know Before You Go!
Farmers markets can be an overwhelming source of freshly picked produce, plants, and specialty food products. We’ve got the top 10 best tips and tricks on how to make the most of your trip to the West Allis Farmers Market. Become an expert on navigating the dos and don’ts of shopping at your local farmers market!
1: Know What’s in Season
You may be used to having access to all sorts of fruits and vegetables year-round at a grocery store, but that’s not how it works at a farmers’ market. Growing seasons vary for all types of plants, vegetables, and fruits and are completely dependent on weather conditions. Understanding what’s in season from May through November will allow you to have a better experience with realistic expectations of what will be available.
You won’t find strawberries in October, and certainly won’t find corn before July. Know before you go!
2: Make a Shopping List Before You Go, But Keep an Open Mind
It’s always helpful to have a grocery list heading into the farmers market to keep you on track and more focused on finding what you’re looking for. But half the fun of going to the farmers market is finding new products you’ve never tried before.
Keep an open mind when shopping, you never know what ingredient you’ll come across that could be the perfect addition to your next meal.
3: Walk Through the Market Before Buying
If you’d like to see all that the market has to offer during each shopping trip, take a walk through each aisle before purchasing anything. This way, you get to see what each vendor has that market day and make your purchasing decision based on the quality and quantity available.
Taking a more thoughtful approach to farmers market shopping allows you to avoid impulsive overspending and overbuying.
4: Come Prepared to Carry Your Purchases While Shopping
Bring your own reusable bags to the market! Not only is this the more sustainable way to shop, but reusable bags are often larger, and you can fit more items in your bag. Avoid the small plastic bags vendors typically have available whenever you can, they are thinner and may not hold all the produce you are buying.
Planning for a larger haul week after week? Consider purchasing a folding shopping cart or wagon to bring with you. Cars are not allowed to drive into the market structure during market hours and curbside parking is not always available, so having a cart to haul your purchases in is highly recommended!
5: Bring Cash or Use Our ATM
While many of our vendors are able to accept a card as payment, it’s helpful to have cash as a backup just in case. If technology goes down on card readers, we do have an ATM located in the center walkway of the market. Also, credit card processors often have extra processing fees that take away from the farmer’s profit for the day.
Want to make a farmer’s life easier? Bring small bills if you anticipate making smaller purchases. Exact change and smaller bills will make it easier for vendors make change throughout the whole market day.
6: Ask Questions
Shopping at farmers markets are the most convenient places to make connections with local farmers and to learn more about locally grown food. Our farmers and their staff are very familiar with the products they have available, and they’d be happy to let you know the best tips and tricks to growing them, what they taste like, and how to prepare them.
Not sure how to properly wash and store your produce? Came across a strange looking vegetable you’ve never seen before? Ask about it! It may just be your new favorite vegetable.
Our market staff members are also here to help, email us at email@example.com for specific questions, call us on a market day at 414-940-1371, or stop into the market office to talk with our Market Attendant.
7: Respect Our Vendors and Don’t Shop Before the Bell Goes Off
Farmers are some of the hardest working people we have ever met. They work long, laborious hours to make sure you get the freshest produce each market day. In most cases, you are buying directly from the farmer who woke up at 4 a.m. to load up the truck for a long day at the farmers market. Prices are set based on many factors, but please remember that this is how they make a living. You wouldn’t negotiate the price of your iced coffee from the local coffee shop, so please don’t negotiate the price of your produce.
The ringing of the bell to acknowledge the start of selling at the West Allis Farmers Market has been a tradition for many, many years. Farm vendors are not allowed to sell to customers until that bell goes off, so please do not try to get vendors to sell to you early. Selling begins at 12 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
8: Leave Your Dog at Home
We recommend always checking before going to any farmers market in the area, as all have different rules for animals. And while we may love dogs personally, we do ask that you please leave your furry friend at home when shopping with us.
Service animals are welcome, but for the health and safety of everyone involved we do ask that you leave your non-service pets at home. Yes, that includes pigs, birds, rabbits, etc.
9: Treat Yourself
Do flowers make you happy? Buy a fresh bouquet of flowers for your home. We all need a little more happiness in our lives right now, so why not brighten your week with a pop of color from the West Allis Farmers Market?
Don’t forget to check out our specialty food vendors as well. Treat yourself to an amazing food truck meal from Lola’s Empanadas, homemade maple root beer or maple syrup from County Line Sugar Bush, a decadent charcuterie board from MKE Charcuterie; you get the idea, there’s a lot of delicious options to choose from week to week!
10: Check Our Social Media and Website for Updates
Our goal is to keep all customers in the loop of what’s going on at the West Allis Farmers Market through regular social media and website updates from May through November.
Have specific market questions you need answered? We’ve most likely got it covered in our Market FAQs.