Going to a Sullivan Catskills Farmers Market is as much about the food as it is about meeting friendly farmers. Over 500 people were surveyed in the Catskills in 2016, 9 out of 10 said they enjoyed meeting their farmer. One thing shoppers enjoy is getting valuable tips, recipes, and insight into how their food was grown. Here’s what to ask your farmer!

#1 What’s the best way to store _______?

It might seem like a silly question, and you may think you know the answer. But oftentimes at the market there are local fruits and vegetables you can’t find in stores or that you’ve never tried. Knowing how to properly store your finds is important so you can save money and cut down on food waste.

#2 What’s your favorite recipe for ________?

Farmers eat what they grow, too! You could use those tomatoes you just bought in your go-to weekly dinner a salad. Or, you can ask farmer what special recipes they might use them for. In fact, all farmers markets in the Sullivan County Catskills have 3 free recipes available during fall 2017 that feature in-season produce. Just ask your farmer or the market manager!

#3 Are you certified organic?

The term “organic” is more complex than you think. Many farms may use organic practices, but cannot afford the expense of the certification process. Some farms may use some chemicals, but keep them to a minimum as much as they can. Farmers will be honest with you – so go ahead, ask if they’re organic!

#4 Did you grow/produce this?

You’re probably thinking “It’s a farmers market. Of course, the produced this themselves!” However, that may not actually be the case. It’s not uncommon for a farm to partner with another one, and sell their products at certain markets. But most of the time these products are still local, and it is helping local farmers be in more places at once.

Most markets require their vendors, and the products they sell, to be local. In fact, the Sullivan Catskills Farmers Markets are required to sell food from within a 75 mile radius (among other quality standards, see them here). But if you’re in doubt, just ask!

#5 Why do you farm?

Sometimes, this can be the best question to ask! You never know what their answer might be, and each farm will have a different reason. Some do it because their farm has been around for generations, and it’s in their genes. Some do it because they want to produce healthy food for folks, and enjoy the work. You never know what they might say, and it might give you some insight about the farmer themselves, and not just the business they run.

Sometimes your questions may require long answers. So, it might be better if you ask it during a slow time at the market, instead at a peak time when farmers are super busy. Or, just hop on social media – most farmers have a Facebook page and answer messages promptly.