Navigating the farmers’ market with kids Farmers market season is well underway in northern Colorado. These markets can range in size and offering and unlike grocery shopping at your local supermarkets, farmers markets focus on local produce and artists in an outdoor environment, which allows for a slower-paced but very enjoyable family experience. Alison O’Connor and Emily Alligood, Larimer County Farmers Market Managers say, “Bringing kids to the farmers' markets is a fun experience for the entire family! Not only does it introduce children to farmers and lets them engage with how fruits and vegetables are grown, it also may open them to different types of produce they may not see at the grocery store...or on their dinner plate.” 

Here are a few tips for making the most of your visit to the market when you’re bringing your kids:

Feed everyone before you go. 

Many farmers markets have food stalls, and vendors often offer samples, but if you haven’t planned to buy everyone a pastry, then be sure stomachs are full prior to going. Have a plan for your eating so everyone knows what to expect, and pack small snacks for young market goers to avoid hangry attitudes.

Be gracious with samples.

Many vendors serve bite-sized samples at their booths. They want you to taste their products. These little tastes help you decide which flavors you like and encourage brisk business. However, samples are not your lunch and shouldn't be treated as such. Children should only sample with permission and supervision. Vendors are not aware of allergies so supervision is important.

Bring your own bags.

Vendors may or may not have bags on hand, but either way, it’s important to conserve waste by bringing your own bag, which can hold your purchases from any and all vendors. It’s also fun for children in a family to have their own bags to carry home their treasures.

Bring water and stay hydrated.

Large farmers markets can take a while to get around, and it gets hot very quickly. In northern Colorado, farmers markets tend to be hosted in parking lots or open fields—places that heat up quickly and might not have access to a public drinking water source. Bringing water bottles is an easy way for family members to have the water they need without paying for refreshment on the spot.

Let the kids choose some items.

O’Connor and Alligood agree, “If kids have the opportunity to help shop for their vegetables and fruits, they are more apt to eat them. Involve kids in the purchasing process.” This also provides an opportunity for parents to talk about proper nutrition, trying new things and enjoying fresh fruits, vegetables and local products.

Bring a stroller. 

Even if your young child is walking, little ones get tired which can dampen our moods as parents. A stroller or a wagon not only lets us take little ones without having to carry them, but also keeps them in a secure line of sight. They also act as an extra hand for carrying bags. 

Many markets have special events just for children. For example, the Larimer County Farmers' Market does "Science Saturdays" during the summer, introducing children to STEM. They also are having a Vegetable Festival on August 12 and kids can build and race a zucchini.