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Before you can start to put up food, you need the produce to work with. While you can certainly head to your local grocery store to pick up 20 pounds of green beans to can, 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 produce that’s local and in season in your area. That’s where you’ll find the best deals. 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.
Hit The Farmer’s Market Late In The Day
A great strategy is to head to your local farmer’s 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 you have to be ready to take it home and start working on freezing, pickling and canning right away.
Get To Know Farmers In Your Area
While you’re hanging out at the farmer’s 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.
Get Together With Others To Buy In Bulk
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 piece 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 veggies to put up while still being able to take advantage of a great deal.
The next question is of course, how you find these people? You find them at the farmer’s 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 ordering by going in to buy together.