Six Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Farmers Markets

Farmers market season is in full swing. That means at least once a week, fresh, in-season food and local farmers are available just a few minutes away. To celebrate National Farmers Market Week, we decided to find out more about this tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

Cody Carper is a 20-year farmers market veteran who also grows corn and soybeans, and raises cattle with his parents in Rutland, South Dakota. He started out growing produce in high school to make money and has stuck with it ever since. We caught up with Cody, as he was in the middle of loading sweet corn, to talk about what it’s like farming for the market and what you might not know about farmers markets in South Dakota.

Local farmers with a truck bed full of fresh corn at the farmers market.

1. Farmers markets are a great place to connect with local farmers and talk to them about food. Have questions about how food is raised? Head to a local farmers market to find out what farmers do and why they’re passionate about it.

2. Some farmers market farmers do more than grow produce. In addition to growing for the market, Cody grows corn and soybeans on a large scale. He says many visitors to the farmers market have questions about how that affects his food at the market.

“People have a misconception that a bigger scale farm might be worse ,” said Cody. “I put just as much care into farming my acres of corn and soybeans as I do my vegetables. All the other crop farmers I know do too.”

3. Presentation is everything.

“July through September, we are at farmers markets seven days a week,” said Cody. “Every morning, we go to a farmers market. We wash, bunch, box and bag everything. The preparation takes a lot of work. We spend a lot of time making sure everything is presented just right.”

4. Farmers markets are a great place to find in-season foods. Look for fresh beets, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, radishes, spinach, tomatoes and zucchini this time of year. Check out everything that’s in season here.

5. Getting food from farm to market is a full-time job. Once farmers get to the market, it’s like a mini vacation.

“We pick every day, all day,” said Cody. “So time at the farmers market? That’s the relaxing time. You can sit back and visit with fellow vendors and shoppers, and see the results of all your hard work.”

6. August 7-13 is National Farmers Market week. There are more than 8,600 farmers markets in the United States and 42 in South Dakota so find a local farmers market. If you’re not able to make it to the market but still want to meet a farmer, leave us a comment and let us know!

Local consumers shop for fresh produce at the farmers market.
A South Dakota farmer selling his produce to local consumers.

Want to learn more about Cody’s produce business? Check out his website. If you have questions for him, leave them in the comments.