Autumn

Help Neighbors by Shopping Local

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Shopping at the farmers market has the added benefit of supporting local business over the large box stores. The money you spend at the Fernandina Beach Market Place pays local wages and local mortgages, and is more likely to stay in our community. Local foods travel less distances, saving on fuels and infrastructure wear and tear.

This week, many of our vendors in the farmers market, as well as those in the Arts Market, are recovering from Hurricane Irma. Windblown and flooded fields, and the lack of electricity and simple air conditioning, put burdons on our family of vendors. Bacon’s Select Produce lost their kale greenhouse and have started a Go Fund Me page. Cabbage Creek Farm’s fields were hit so hard, they couldn’t harvest enough of their crops to even participate in the Market Place last week. Injuries received during the clean-up efforts kept our honey vendor out, while the lack of electricity made it impossible for Lady Bug Gourmet and Topsy Toffee to prepare their goods for market.

While there is so much more to consider than price when you shop your local farmers market, it is also a good idea to set a budget when you shop at the Market Place. Often the temptation of a $5.00 lemonade (for a family of four), or a $5.00 ice cream sandwich for that same family, can quickly send you over budget and fearful of shopping at the local farmers market.

A dear friend recently told me, “I love the farmers market, but I spent over $150.00 there last Saturday. I can’t do that every week.” That comment had me wondering how many people aren’t considering their purchases at the farmers market as part of their monthly food, or health and beauty budget, but counting it as a luxury, entertainment, or worse – an unexpected expense.

The farmers market, in many categories, replaces the grocery store for our regular shoppers. With the exception of chicken and some seasonal fruits and vegetables, I am rarely seen in the grocery store – especially the produce section.

Here are a few tips to keep you on budget for fun shopping trip to buy groceries and beauty supplies:
-Bring your grocery list to the farmers market so you can compare quality and prices.
-When an item is found at the Market Place, mark it off of your grocery list.
-Buy only what you need for the week. If you will only eat two or three carrots, then buy just a few, not the entire bag.
-Meats, salmon, shrimp, and dairy are all likely part of your normal grocery expenses. Remember the ones found in the farmers market are raised wild, without hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. Be careful to compare prices accorgingly.
-When purchasing soy candles, bath bombs, lotions, or balms, these are all items that can be deducted from your health and beauty budget, or perhaps your gift expenditures.

Call it groceries or call it entertainment, but when you splurge on lemonade or ice cream realize what line item of your budget it should be deducted from. Keeping just these few things in mind, you’ll notice you are possibly spending less money than before, and you are buying healthier options for your family. Many of the items on your weekly grocery list are less expensive at the farmers market, some are not, but you also have the option of buying what you need, and not what big marketing companies thinks you need to purchase. You won’t find high sugar soft drinks, breakfast cereals, or prepackaged junk food at the farmers market, but real food made with a short ingredient list on their labels, with names you can pronounce.

The friendly atmosphere is another reason to shop at the farmers market instead of the grocery store. Rather than elevator music playing overhead through accoustic ceiling panels, the farmers market offers you live music by local musicians. This week we are featuring Alain Lelait. He plays soft rock, and rock classics, soley for tips – and your tips support the musician and our local music scene.

You will likely see people you know at the farmers market. We’ve become a casual place to catch up with your family and friends. It often feels like a class or family reunion at the Market Place. People hug, friends chat, families laugh, and strangers smile, and we like it that way!

Our Booth With a Cause program introduces our community to a wide variety of local non-profit organizations that we hope will connect you with your interests. September 23, 2017, we have the Amelia Tree Conservancy. This is a group dedicated to preserving the maritime forest canopy on Amelia Island. Their mission is a) to educate the public and increase awareness regarding the canopy and its importance for us, and b) to advocate for the preservation of the Amelia Island canopy.

This week the Fernandina Beach Arts Market will be open adjacent to the farmers market located on North Seventh Street in historic downtown. Both markets are open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and we hope to see you there, with your grocery list in hand.

For more information, you can find both markets on facebook.

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