I grew up in an area with farm stands and farmer’s markets, and have to say that I love them, just in general. For cruisers, they can be a gold mine.
Farmer’s Market Features
If you’re not a farmer’s market regular, what will you find?
- Never-refrigerated fruits and vegetables. If you’re storing your produce out of the refrigerator (see my book or course), never-refrigerated produce will last longer.
- Less bruised or even rotting produce. Yep, it will last longer, too.
- Vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, with much better flavor.
- Fresh cage-free eggs. You’ll be astonished at how bright yellow the yolks are.
- Possibly meats, cheeses, baked goods and more. They’ll have fewer preservatives than commercially-packaged, so you have to be careful not to buy more than you can eat in a few days if you don’t have freezer space. Oh, but the flavor!
- Fresh, fresh, fresh produce. Often picked within an hour or two of when you buy it.
- Sometimes, the prices will be better than in grocery stores but don’t count on it.
- A chance to talk with those in the know about the best way to prepare new-to-you foods and/or the differences between varieties of a particular food.
Contrary to when I was a kid, many of the sellers aren’t the grower. But they are still much closer to the grower than most grocery stores are!
Finding Farmer’s Markets While Cruising
The good news is that farm stands or markets exist in many cruising areas. We found quite a few in the Bahamas – particularly in the Abacos, Exumas, and Eleuthera. In Mexico, almost every town, and even some tiny villages, had some sort of a farmer’s market. On the Baja peninsula, we ran into several hydroponic growers as well as a couple of “egg factories.”
In El Salvador, the road to San Salvador was lined with honey sellers and tiny tiendas near the anchorage all carried veggies from nearby farms.
I could name place after place where we’ve had wonderful experiences in buying fresh fruit or vegetables – Zanzibar, Hawaii, Turkey, most of the Caribbean islands – come immediately to mind.
How do you find them? Just ask around. The one place not to ask? The grocery store! Other cruisers may be able to tell you, but don’t take their word that there are none: do your own investigating. Sure, you may have to walk a bit to get to a seller, and the “stand” may be someone’s front porch, but it’s part of the adventure of cruising and exploring new places.
If you’re cruising the ICW (east coast of the US), you’ll find farmer’s markets near many anchorages or marinas. One of the best farmer’s markets in the US is right where I now am: West Palm Beach, Florida, just a few blocks from the city dock where you can park your dinghy for free or even tie up for a few hours. There are over 125 vendors!
In the US, many farm stands will take credit cards; in other countries, you’ll usually need cash. Be sure to bring your shopping bags, daypack, or even a wagon to carry all your goodies back to the boat!
A member of The Boat Galley team and creator of The Perfect Boat Dog course, Pamela Douglas loves farmer’s markets too. Click to see the helpful list of farmer’s markets she compiled while cruising the ICW.
Do you have a favorite farmer’s market along the ICW? Tell us about it in the comments so we can update the list.