The Importance of Including Local Farmers Markets in Your Travel Plans

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Blackberries at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market
Blackberries at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market

This morning has taken me in an unexpected direction. I am currently in Harrisonburg, VA on a visit to some friends. My day’s plans came via text message. “Farmers market this morning till noon!!! Bike down Wolfe Street to Liberty Street, head left.”

I love visiting local markets, especially ones away from home. I feel like eating food that comes from the place where you are visiting gives you a unique insight into the local people and culture. I love the chance that visiting a local market gives you to interact with the local community. The Harrisonburg Virginia Farmers Market has provided all of that and more on this beautiful April morning.

Harrisonburg, VA is truly one of the friendliest places that I have ever visited. It is a big enough town that it has all of the services and activities that you would expect from a big city, but it really has a great small town vibe to it. The city also has a great local food culture, with a strong emphasis and awareness of the importance of eating foods produced close to where you live.

Cherry tomatoes at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market
Cherry tomatoes at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market

My visit to the farmers market this morning has thus far given me an awesome, homemade cinnamon roll with maple cream cheese icing, a sample of a delicious kale smoothie (no, really, it was pretty good) with a recipe to take home, a glass of home made lemonade and a discussion about the best methods for overwintering herbs indoors. While I have been sitting here writing this post, I have been listening to some great guitar music from a local musician. I also found a man who makes beautiful stone pendants and earrings from stones local to this area (anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for rocks!)

Even better, though, was the opportunity to witness the greatness of community in action. I have seen neighbors getting together here this morning for breakfast and coffee, local artists selling their art and sharing the beauty of their work with a wide range of people, and local farmers who are intimately connected with the land being able to share that connection with those of us that may not have the opportunity to work with the dirt of our Mother Earth on a daily basis. Selling the produce of their relationship with the Earth gives them the chance to continue making their living and to preserve a way of life that was quickly disappearing here in the US (thanks to farmers markets like this, local produce is making a comeback in recent years.)

Fall gourds and pumpkins at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market
Fall gourds and pumpkins at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market

A community is held together by many small, mostly invisible webs that seem insignificant at first, but when put together provide strength and stability for all of those involved. I have seen many of those webs come together this morning at the Harrisonburg Virginia Farmers Market. When viewed together, I can see the strong community that Harrisonburg has.

Whenever you travel, make sure to check to see if there are any local markets that you can visit while you are there. Not only will it provide you with some fresh, delicious, cost effective local food to nourish your body, but you will be included as a temporary part of that special web of community. This will give you a unique insight into the place that you are visiting that you just can’t get when you just visit the big tourist sights. If you don’t make regular practice of visiting local markets when you travel, give it a try. I know that it will make your escape even more memorable.

Tools to Find Local Market Where you Are Traveling:



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The Importance of Including Local Farmers Markets in Your Travel Plans

21 Responses

  1. We LOVE local markets too. Every Saturday we go down to the one below Edinburgh Castle (beautiful setting by the way) and grab some cheeses and spreads for that evening!
    Those blueberries look amazing 🙂

    Cole @ Four Jandals May 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm #
    • I am soooo jealous that you get to go to a market in such a beautiful location! We have traveled to a lot of places, but Scotland is one of the few places that we have been that I could actually see myself living.

      Shanna Schultz May 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm #
  2. I am totally with you on this one.

    And in an age where refrigeration/freezing is like it is, I feel like we lose the appreciation of eating seasonal foods- and in some cases, don’t even know what’s in season. Food’s just so much better when it’s fresh and made with love & care 🙂

    Erica May 17, 2012 at 2:14 am #
    • I keep striving to eat more seasonally. Each year, I can a few more items than the year before, but it is still really hard with the long winter that we generally have here in Minnesota. We just don’t have the same set of skills that our ancestors had to survive. I don’t know how they did it!

      Shanna Schultz May 17, 2012 at 2:42 am #
  3. Oh man, I LOVE farmer’s markets! Samples and fragrant flowers and fresh produce… oh my! We found a really awesome one in Amsterdam that was so adorable and local, and they also had a few booths with antiques and old funky jewelry. I was in heaven.

    Christy @ Technosyncratic May 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm #
  4. I recently moved to New York City and I’m so excited to start getting a taste of the local flavor (literally and figuratively) now that all of the farmer’s markets are popping up. Yayy for Spring!!

    Britany Robinson May 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm #
    • In New York, I would imagine that your local farmers markets have an international flavor to them, with all of the different nationalities represented in the city?

      Shanna Schultz May 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm #
  5. Farmers markets are great! It’s a great way to eat cheap and local. A great way to experience another country. Thanks for sharing!
    Travel and Escape Community recently posted..British Columbia’s Tasty TreasuresMy Profile

    Travel and Escape Community July 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm #
    • Thanks for the great comment! I am really appreciating the abundance of local food and direct fo farmer sales outlets that we are seeing here traveling around southern France. Even the gas station had a section in it for local meats and cheeses.

      Shanna Schultz July 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm #
  6. Marvelous post! Not only do I love to shop at farmers markets at home, some of my greatest travel experiences have happened through an incidental stop at a market.
    Krista recently posted..Celebrating Bastille Day, le 14 juillet, Halifax-styleMy Profile

    Krista July 14, 2012 at 12:00 am #
    • Thanks! We have been to some incredible markets here in France. I love fresh food, and I love making a connection with the person who grew it. I think it makes the food taste better!

      Shanna Schultz July 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm #
  7. Love farmers markets too, you often get the best stuff there. Gotta say in Germany, farmers markets often sell more expensive produce than you get in the stores, but you get better quality too. And you have a chance to talk with the people who make the stuff you eat – and oftentimes learn something new, so for me it’s always worth it 🙂
    Ramin recently posted..How Clean Are Hotels and Bed&Breakfasts in Thailand Compared To Other Countries?My Profile

    Ramin November 9, 2012 at 4:11 am #
    • I LOVE MARKETS! I think that you can tell so much about a culture from looking at what they have for sale at a local market. Stay tuned…I am starting a series of posts to highlight some of the really cool markets that I have visited!

      Shanna November 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm #
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