Did you have a less than stellar gardening season this year? Your plans may be thwarted, but you can still find great deals on produce to preserve.
Did you have a less than stellar gardening season this year? Your plans for canning, drying, and freezing the harvest may be thwarted. If you had plans to put up a bunch of food throughout the year, you still need the product to work with. While you can certainly head to your local grocery store to pick up 20 pounds of green beans to can or pumpkins to puree, it’s probably not your best option.
Not only will it cost you quite a bit, even if green beans happen to be on sale that week, you also don’t usually get the best quality food at your grocery store.
It should go without saying that you should look for fresh produce that’s local, and in season in your area. That’s where you’ll find the best deals. At the end of the season, you will often get the best deals and the best price, because the market is already saturated with produce, and the price is low.
Every once in a while you may even get lucky and have a friendly neighbor who shares his bumper crop with you. If you’re not quite that lucky, here are your best bets for finding great deals on seasonal, local produce.
Go to farmers markets late in the day
A great strategy is to head to your local farmers market close to the time everyone is ready to pack up and call it a day. Farmers know they won’t sell much more and the last thing they want to do is pack all this produce back up and take it back.
You can make a deal and buy a lot of fresh food at a fraction of the cost you usually would. Of course, it will often be ripe after being out all day so you have to be ready to take it home and start working on freezing, pickling, dehydrating, and canning right away.
Make friends with the farmers in your area
While you’re hanging out at the farmers market, get to know the farmers in your area. Talk to them, buy from them, go check out the farm. As you start to grow that relationship, you’ll find that you’re able to get some great deals on fresh produce.
You may be able to work out a “pick your own” type deal, where you go out to the farm and harvest what you need yourself. Or you may be able to get a great deal on excess produce that the farmer isn’t able to sell in time. As you get to know one or two farmers, they can also introduce you to others in the area, it is a win for everyone.
Share with friends and Look into bulk purchases
Often the best deals are to be had when you can buy large quantities of any product. When we’re talking about buying straight from the farmer that may mean far more of any one variety of produce than you could possibly need. Yet, because of the price, this can still be well worth it.
The solution is simple. Get together with a few other families interested in buying and preserving local, seasonal food. You go in and buy the larger quantities together and divide them between each other. Everyone gets a much more manageable amount of fruits and vegetables to preserve while still being able to take advantage of a great deal.
The next question is of course how you find these people. Start with your friends. If they do not share your passion for preserving food, teach them how to do it. You can find people who are like-minded at the farmers market, and at the farms themselves. Talk to other shoppers as you come across them. Get to know them, exchange ideas and resources, and eventually talk about taking advantage of bulk orders by going in to buy together.
You can often find these people at the Local Harvest website. Don’t let your pantry be bare, find great deals on produce to preserve by asking local farmers, inquiring about the bulk buy groups, and above all else, be willing to visit a farm and pick from the fields.