Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rochester Public Market

Going to the Public Market has become a favorite activity of our family. The Public Market is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 6AM-1PM and Saturdays from 5AM-3PM. Whichever day you go, I suggest arriving early to get the best selection. Crowds tend to be lighter during the week, but there tends to be more vendors on Saturdays, especially in the slower months (winter-early spring). You will also find the Public Market is open extended hours and days on special occasions and around the holidays. A few well-know special events they are home to are Community Garage Sales and Flower Days at the Market. The market is located at 280 North Union St, in northeast Rochester. It is about 3 blocks north of East Main St. Free parking is available at the market and across the street from the market. If you are there during a busy time, it is unlikely you will get a parking spot in the market itself and it is often difficult to maneuver a vehicle through with all the people walking through it. I highly suggest not even looking for a spot there and just parking across the street. There is often a police officer there to direct traffic at the crosswalk so it is really no big deal to cross the street.

I also want to clear up any misconceptions for those who have never been to the Public Market. This is not just a farmer's market! It is true there are many farmers who sell their freshly harvested produce, but there are also baked goods, jewelry, knitted items, homemade soaps and lotions, spices, crafts and so much more. Also, if you have been to the suburban farm markets and have been scared away by their prices (based on personal experiences), rest assured that the vendors at the Public Market charge very fair prices (at least the majority of them do). I find I can usually buy my produce there at a fraction of the price of the grocery stores, plus I know the items are fresh and there is a peace of mind when you can deal directly with those who work the farms. For those who receive food assistance, you can use your EBT card to purchase tokens that can be exchanged for food at the various vendors.

I love shopping at the Public Market (can you tell?). Here are a few tips to keep in mind before heading out:
- If you are bringing a young child, I highly recommend bringing a stroller as you will be walking a lot. However, on the busier days, you will want to use as small of a stroller as possible as it can get difficult to get through the crowds with a large stroller.
- If you do not want a lot of plastic grocery bags floating around, be sure to bring your own reusable bags.
- To make shopping as quick and easy as possible, bring plenty of smaller bills so you can pay with exact change.
- If you are there during a mealtime, there are plenty of restaurants and hot food vendors in the vicinity and within the market (though they are not under the awning nor in the building).
- Be sure to visit the enclosed building as well as the outside vendors. Sometimes the building gets overlooked, but there are several great vendors in there as well.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. The farmers can tell you about their farming practices (pesticides used/not used, fertilization methods, etc) and they can also tell you how to grow your own produce, how to know when an item is ready to eat, and ways to prepare their produce.

Those of you who visit the Public Market, what tips can you share? Do you have any favorite vendors? Any to avoid?

Also, be sure to visit to vote for the Rochester Public Market to win the title of number one farmer's market in the country.

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