El Niño Rains Are Good for Farmers – But They Need Customers, Too!

Farmers’ Markets typically slow down in the winter, but this season has been especially tough: farmers are finally getting the rain they need, but the customers have dried up. Months of wet weather can make a big dent in profits for a farmer set up at an outdoor market. The solution is customers who are prepared for rain and committed to supporting their local farmers. We need your help – so we’re giving you these tips on how and why you should shop in the rain. Our farmers hope to see you out in the rain soon!

  • The farmer still has to show up. They spend time and money growing and harvesting the food, driving it to the market, displaying it, and hoping for customers. If none show, they stand to lose money on all that effort – and they may not be able to continue coming to farmers’ markets. If you want the benefits of a vibrant, sustainable food system, you have to be willing to do your part for it. Don’t be just a fair weather shopper!
  • Brussel sprouts and mandarins: some farmers have crops that only have a winter season. They rely on profitability to keep farming year after year.
  • Nutrient rich, fresh food will keep you healthy in the winter. What’s in season: citrus (vitamin C!), greens, many onion varieties and root vegetables are perfect for soups. Have you tried celery root?
  • You’ll get prime pickings of what’s available. Fewer customers mean that there’s less competition for the prize items that usually fly.
  • Dress like a farmer. Fold up your umbrella while you are at the market, it will tie up your hands. Wear a waterproof jacket or poncho with a hood, rain pants, and big boots with warm socks to keep your feet dry.
  • Bring reusable bags that will dry quickly. Plastic bags can get everything around them wet. Paper bags can get soggy and rip.
  • Get to know your farmer – more. With fewer crowds, you can have more time to ask questions, catch up on news, exchange recipes and earn your farmers’ appreciation for being a dedicated customer.
  • Fill up a Farmers’ Market Frequent Shopper card! Stop by the Farmers’ Market information booth and ask for a card. After 7 visits, you get a gift for being a regular shopper, but if you show up on rainy days, you get extra stamps for being extra dedicated.
  • Join the club. There are a special group of shoppers who will be out at the farmers’ market with you. Feel the solidarity!
  • Parking is easier. Whether you bike or drive, it is more abundant on rainy days.
  • Even though it’s still winter, the days are getting longer. Enjoy this season with an afternoon or evening stop at one of our weekday markets.

Rain or Shine Ecology Center Farmers’ Market Hours & Locations:

    Downtown Berkeley (Center Street @ M. L. King, Jr. Way)
    Saturdays 10 am – 3 pm

    North Berkeley (Shattuck Avenue @ Rose Street)
    Thursdays 3 pm – 7 pm

    South Berkeley (Adeline Street and 63rd Street)
    Tuesdays 2 pm – 6:30 pm

Rain or Shine Farm Fresh Choice Produce Stand Hours & Location:

    Frances Albrier Community Center (at San Pablo Park, 2800 Park St)
    Tuesdays 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm

[Photo credit: Barbara L. Hanson on Flickr]

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