How to Have a Farmers Market Treasure Hunt With Your Kids
Want to spend even more time wandering among the delightful sights, smells and sounds of your local market?
Discover more about the foods grown near your hometown with a fun farmers’ market treasure hunt.
Don’t just buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Learn where they come from and how they grow, and support local farmers in the process.
In this article I’ll show you how to make the most of your trip to the local farmers’ market by having a treasure hunt with your kids.
Why Have a Farmers’ Market Treasure Hunt?
Whether you regularly go to the farmers’ market with your family or as a special event, a treasure hunt will help you make the most out of your experience.
A farmers’ market is the perfect backdrop for a unique learning quest, where the treasure is the bounty of colorful produce.
Don’t just breeze past the vendors to pick up a few groceries—learn about them.
With the treasure hunt sheet as a guide, use this adventure to get to know those vendors by name, discover how the farmers get the food from the field to the market, and learn how to recognize the local produce that’s in season and more.
As a bonus, by showing interest, you may even get some extra free samples.
Farmers’ markets give you the opportunity to directly support local agriculture, especially small-scale farming. You’ll likely get produce at its freshest and healthiest and sometimes even cheaper than what you’d pay at the supermarket. Plus, learn about the “food chain” that ends with you.
There are plenty of life skills kids can develop as they explore the farmers’ market. Discover how to navigate a busy market and learn how to make yourself heard over the dozens or hundreds of other people trying to buy.
And then there’s the math and money part, where you count out the money to make a purchase and verify your change.
There are also many opportunities to try something new—perhaps a food that you’ve never eaten before and/or a new way to cook or store it.
Many farmers’ markets have prepared foods, music and games for the kids. It’s a complete sensory adventure. A farmers’ market can be a rich experience for you and your kids. You just have to know where to look and what questions to ask!
A perfect day at the market includes an exciting treasure hunt, a delicious snack fresh from the market and time to share your experiences of the day.
Let’s get started!
#1: Prepare for Your Treasure Hunt
Find a farmers’ market, if you don’t already go to one regularly. Check out the National Farmers’ Market Directory, ask your local chamber of commerce or do a search online.
Next, talk to your kids about your upcoming adventure.
Download the farmers’ market treasure hunt PDF and print one copy for each of your kids. The list gives you and your family items to find and questions to ask the vendors.
Take a few minutes to read over the treasure hunt items and answer any questions your kids might have. Encourage your kids to do some farmers’ market research online beforehand, too.
The idea is to find each item or ask the vendors questions on the list as you go through the market. Write down the answer and/or purchase the items as you go along. Decide ahead of time if the same item can count more than once on the list.
Depending on the age of your kids and the size of your farmers’ market, you may want to divide into teams to seek out the items. Split the list or have a contest to see who can get the most items in the shortest amount of time.
For treasure hunters who like to cook, find a recipe in a cookbook or online and add the recipe ingredients to the list. Or when you get home, try to make a meal using only ingredients that you picked up during your adventure!
#2: Go on Your Treasure Hunt
Once you have your lists and a plan, head out to the farmers’ market with your kids. Before you start your treasure hunt, if you decide to go out in teams, determine where and when you’ll meet up after.
Here are the things you’ll need to find on your treasure hunt:
1. Find two fruits and two vegetables that are in season now.
These shouldn’t be too hard to find.
2. Find something not available at your local supermarket.
If you go to the supermarket regularly as a family, it should be easy for your kids to pick out the unique items. If not, chances are they’ll still find something unique without having to ask too many questions.
3. Find one local vendor whose farm you could visit.
Ask around to find a vendor whose farm you can visit. Then jot down the details when and where or how to schedule tours, so you can have a future adventure.
4. Ask an organic farmer how he controls bugs and weeds.
Many farmers’ markets have a specific organic section, where you can find a farmer to ask. And what kid doesn’t like to talk about bugs?
5. Ask a farmer for a suggestion on how to prepare his/her produce.
Budding chefs will love this question. You may even get more than one recommendation.
6. Find three things for sale at the market that are not fruits or vegetables.
There’s a lot more to a farmers’ market than produce. Some have prepared foods. Others have non-food items entirely.
7. Find something that grows underground.
Beets, carrots, onions, potatoes and radishes are a few of the vegetables that grow underground.
8. Find something that grows on a tree.
There are many varieties of fruits that grow on trees.
9. Find something whose varieties come in a couple different colors.
Many fruits, vegetables and herbs come in a variety of colors.
10. Find one fruit or vegetable that you’ve never eaten before.
Try a sample of this produce or be adventurous and buy some.
11. Find one thing in each of the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple.
Make a rainbow out of the different-colored fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market.
12. What’s the biggest fruit you can find?
Large fruits include pumpkins and watermelons.
13. What’s the smallest vegetable you can find?
Shallots, garlic and cherry tomatoes are small vegetables.
14. If you had $10 to spend, what would you buy?
15. Buy something organic, local, in season, easy to share with your friends and family and good for your health.
Take back your organic finding to the group, along with whatever other treasures you acquired. Congrats! You’ve finished the treasure hunt!
#3: Enjoy a Snack
After such a fun and comprehensive adventure, it’s time for a snack!
Enjoy one of the healthy fruit and veggie treats you purchased or explore the market for another option.
#4: Talk About Your Experience
While you are enjoying your farmers’ market treat, go through your lists and discuss what you learned on your treasure hunt.
Did you meet a farmer who offered to show you his laying hens? Did you find a woman who showed you how she makes soap with herbs from her balcony garden? Did you hear a new style of music from a street musician, try a new cheese or get a great deal on tomatoes?
One of the best parts of this adventure is that you got to learn what goes on behind the scenes on the farm. That’s stuff you’ll remember next time you go shopping, whether it’s to the grocery or the next farmers’ market adventure.
After your treasure hunt, ask the kids what things they want to find next time. Make up a brand new treasure hunt list.
Some Final Thoughts…
Farmers’ markets are popular all over the world. In fact, National Geographic put together a list of Top Ten Farmers’ Markets all over the world. But your favorite farmers’ market is bound to be the one near you.
A farmers’ market treasure hunt is an excellent way to bond with your family, while learning new and exciting things about the fruits and vegetables grown around your hometown.
The best thing to come out of your farmers’ market adventure is not necessarily the food bounty, but the love of natural foods it may inspire in your kids.
What do you think? What’s your favorite part about YOUR farmers’ market? What new fruit or vegetable did your kids discover? What did you cook with your farmers’ market treasures? Be sure to tell us about your experience and post pictures of your adventure below! That way, our readers can get a glimpse of farmers’ markets all over the world.
Images from iStockPhoto.
Amanda Shaw is mom to three spirited children and doubles as director of content marketing at WebrunnerMG. On any given day, she dons a tutu or a hard hat. Other posts by Amanda Shaw »