How To Talk To Your Farmer

On August 16, 2013

I talk to a lot of people who are intimidated by farmer’s markets.  They feel like they don’t quite know what questions to ask, who to buy from and end up getting totally overwhelmed by the process.

First thing to note is: it’s up to you to get the conversation going.  Most farmers are incredibly intelligent, have copious amounts of information about their crops and could talk ad nauseum about them…if you show a little interest.

They are so entrenched in what they do that they assume you know what they know.  Like, if someone asks about your job, you’re not going to immediately offer detailed information.  People need to ask for it.

Here is your simple guide to get the convo going with your local farmer.  Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!

Farmers_Market__July__2010_027

The Basics

  • Do you use any pesticides or herbicides in your field? (just because a farm is not certified organic doesn’t mean they don’t follow organic standards.  It’s always best to just ask!)
  • What’s the freshest today?
  • What is the most ripe? (especially if you’re talking about fruit)
  • What items do you recommend?

A little more in-depth

  • When was this harvested? (harvested=picked)
  • How can I prepare this? (let them give you some ideas, they are happy to share!)
  • How should I store this? (Importanté!)
  • How much longer will this be in season? (that’s an advanced level question)

Your farmer is not some serious, socially inept weird-o.  They want to chat with you!  But they don’t want to assume that you know nothing, so it’s on you to engage them.  Also, a lot of people who choose to work on their own tend to be introverts.  So it might be on you to start the conversation, don’t be afraid to engage them.  Be interested, be curious, be whoever you are.

farmer

Like anyone, people like to talk about themselves.  Feel free to ask questions like:

  • How long have you been farming?
  • What got you into it?

Of course if they are super busy you don’t want to barrage them with small talk.  But these are people who have dedicated their entire lives to this.  Farming isn’t a 9-5 “job”.  It’s a lifestyle, a labor or love, and the people who devote their lives to this are proud and passionate about what they do.

Any other questions you think are pertinent?  Please add to the list in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

 

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