We are making our Market even more family-friendly this season. In addition to having our area’s premiere children’s entertainer Mattew Romain “The Laughtertainer”, we also now have a Kid’s Corner featuring arts & crafts and fun activities.

Taking yours kids to the farmers market can be a fun outing – but that’s not all! It can also be a fabulous learning experience for them. It’s a great place to teach about many, many things. Here are a few lessons your kids can take home, and where to find farmers markets in your area:

1. Teach them about where the farms are located. They will understand that food is grown locally to where they live. You can share with them the importance of eating farm-grown foods to financially support the family farm and local community, as well as to reduce the environmental impact by purchasing foods that require less gas mileage to get from production to consumption site.

2. Teach them about seasonability and why certain fruits or vegetables grow at certain times of the year. Cherries in January? That’s not natural! They can ask the farmers questions about why foods grow better at certain times of year (due to weather and growing conditions).

3. Teach the names of all the fruits and vegetables. They may spot some that they would never see at the supermarket.

4. How does that food get on the table? Eating isn’t a matter of microwaving something or boiling it. Food goes from ingredient to recipe to table. Kids can learn more about that process, thanks to a farmers market lesson. Understanding what local food is gives kids a sense of appreciation for their meals, and shopping at a local farmers market can make this concept a little more concrete.

5. Teach them about nutritional value. Much of the food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification (GMOs). Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. These practices may have negative effects on human health. On the other hand, most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties. Make sure to ask each farmer about their growing practices.

6. Cook the food you bought and get your kids involved. Basic cooking skills will open up many more choices for them later in life and hopefully prevent the need to buy ready made, highly processed meals.

7. Teach them about friendships. The next time you go to the market your kids will remember the farmers. It’s great to make new friends, especially when they are doing something as important as growing your food.

8. Teach your kids that there is more to live than electronics. The Farmers Market is a great excuse to bust away from the TV, Xbox, Facebook, or Twitter. Hit the local market and get some fresh air.

9. Teach them about health. The Farmers Market provides an opportunity to learn about nutrition and why real foods are so important to maintain a healthy body. If your kids compete in sports, you can teach them why nutrients will make them better athletes. Even if they don’t play sports they can understand that real food is packed with vitamins and minerals that make them stronger, smarter, and healthier. Additionally you’ll be able to choose non-GMO foods and support non-GMO farmers.

10. Teach the importance of community. There are a growing number of farmers markets in Ontario. They serve not only as a way for people to purchase local food but also as a chance for them to connect with others within their communities. Buying local promotes a sense of pride in your home town.

A trip to the Farmers Market provides a great way to spend time together as a family. Enjoy each other’s company while doing something healthy!

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