Visiting the Farmer’s Market is one of our favorite weekend family activities and San Antonio has several really amazing markets from which to choose.
Pre-baby, my husband and I loved spending leisurely mornings at the market, sipping coffee, sampling veggies we’d never tried and filling up on people watching and conversation with vendors. When Vivi joined the family, we eased back into our weekend ritual and found that not many adjustments needed to be made to accommodate our baby.
As Vivi has grown, so has our list of accommodations! Going to the market with a toddler (and even as an older, interested-in-whats-going-on baby) has required some changes in the way we shop, visit, and browse so that we all enjoy the experience.
We always bring a stroller. Even if she’s walking, the produce can ride! I’ve seen many families with wagons, as well, which seems to work well for an older set of children. It provides a place to sit and is more accommodating than a stroller. A water bottle and a snack always come with us, too. Even though we now eat breakfast before heading out – to cut down on wait time at the food vendors and expensive toddler grazing – it doesn’t hurt to have a snack that I know she’ll happily eat on hand. In the bottom of the stroller are our bags to carry all the produce and goodies we purchase.
We’ve always liked to go as early as possible, but now we make a special effort to be there when it opens. The vendors are fresh, the lines are shorter and there are generally fewer people, which provides lots of space to walk (or run…) and to explore new produce, cheese, meat, and other foods. As she approaches age three, Vivi is really into looking at the colors, shapes, and smells of the items available. When the lines aren’t as long, we’re more likely to get extra attention, patient explanations and sometimes even tastes of new fruits and veggies. Fewer shoppers also translates to less “I can’t see my fast-as-lightning toddler among the sea of legs” feeling!
Some of the vendors are very hands-on and some are very hands-off. Vivi is working on asking if she can touch produce before the urge strikes. Who can blame her? Everything is so colorful and smells so good! We regularly end up with a flower petal, a pinch or basil or a cherry tomato in-hand because who can resist a two-year old asking, “May-eye-toush-peas?” !? Asking first though seems to be the magic trick – as it should be!
When at all possible, I let Vivi make the final decision on our purchases. I think it provides some power and control and it just feels good to pick out your own items! She’s far more likely to eat the squash, mushrooms, or eggs that she helped pick out than if I had done all the choosing. I can only imagine that this holds true for big kids, too!
If Vivi didn’t get to pick much produce (or cheese – she’s a great cheese picker!) then we try to find *something* (like end of summer zinnias) for her to choose.
The farmer’s market is a great place to buy seedlings. We’ve had so much more luck with market plats than with nursery plants and our little garden flourishes with herbs and peppers we bought at the market. Each season we take great joy in picking new plants and letting Vivi help pick, plant, and harvest with us. The sellers always have the best advice, too!
The three markets we like to visit are very dog friendly – but not all are friendly dogs! Most of the dogs we’ve encountered are very crowd friendly but there have been a few whose owners have nicely told us their four-legged-family members aren’t kid friendly. Since they have every right to be there too, Vivi is also working on “May I pet, please”? and waiting for an answer. She also may have shared a snack or pastry once or twice with permission! Asking for permission to pet a “stranger” dog is not only good manners, but it helps to keep everyone safe (dogs and humans).
As Vivi gets older and our visits evolve, we have also talked about designating a “find me” spot in case we get separated, encouraging her to help make meal planning decisions with us, and giving her money (however earned or allotted) to practice making purchases and budgeting. We still love the ritual of shopping at the farmer’s market – even if it’s not a leisurely as it once was – and will continue to evolve our trips as needed!
These pictures are from Pearl Farmer’s Market held on Saturday mornings starting at 9:00 at the Pearl Brewery Complex but we also enjoy the Quarry Farmer’s and Rancher’s Market held in the Quarry shopping center and Southtown Farmer’s and Rancher’s Market held at the Blue Star Arts complex on both on Sunday from 9-1. Here is a list of more markets in San Antonio, including weekday markets: San Antonio Farmer’s Markets.
Alrighty, moms. Mark your calendars for September 17! Come down to the San Antonio Children’s Museum for a chance to mingle with other San Antonio moms, enjoy yummy food and beverage, and even get a little massage. Make sure to register here before we sell out!