Babies

    Baby, Meet Carrot! 6 Toddler Activities at the Farmer's Market

    famersLooking for toddler activities that offer awesome educational experiences, social-skills building, remedies for picky eating and even some simple planet-saving? And also let you do your shopping at the same time? Introducing… your local farmers market. A trip to the greenmarket offers all these and more in a single toddler outing that will broaden your child’s diet and expand his mind.

    “A farmers market offers so many opportunities for learning,” says preschool director Mary Biggs, whose classes go on field trips to the market every Friday. “It’s one thing to read about a color in a book. It’s another for a toddler to hold a tomato in their hands and say, “Oh, this is red! This is roundness! You don’t have to make learning fun at the farmers market – this place offers so many opportunities for learning.”
    Across the U.S., farmers markets are sprouting in vacant lots and under-used spaces, turning tarmac and rubble into brightly colored seasonal smorgasbords of locally grown treasures. Besides fresh fruits and veggies, many markets also offer grass-fed meat, free range eggs and poultry along with fish, jam, spices and entertainment, including cooking demos and live music; in some cities, farmers even bring their baby animals to market for petting opportunities. Type in your zip code at www.localharvest.com to find the markets nearest you.

    Here are six things your toddler can learn at the farmers market. Arrive early for the freshest picks and fresh toddler energy!

    Where food comes from 
    Most toddlers think food just appears on the table or the supermarket shelf, prepackaged. At a farmers market kids can see the connection between nature and food. Let yours see and touch plants - with earth still clinging to the roots - sample fruits and vegetables, and meet the people who grow them. They can talk to friendly farmers or listen while you ask questions. There are often cooking demos where kids can watch a tomato get cut up and turned into sauce. That applesauce your tot eats? Here, she can see the apples in a bin and also the sauce made from those apples. Bring some goodies home for dinner or pick up dried apple chips, fresh fruit or apple cider to keep the energy level up while you roam the market. 

    Veggies are not the enemy 
    “Kids who have more control over what they eat tend to be happier and more adventurous eaters,” says Biggs, whose classes often munch on snapdragons on the way home from the market. Toddlers tend to be the pickiest of eaters. If yours will only eat food in one color, or says no to anything but white bread, a farmers market could be the answer. Farmer Jeff from Bialas Farms in Orange County, NY, loves to tell about the time a picky eater ate raw spinach from his stand in front of his disbelieving momma’s eyes. “The mom insisted, he’ll never eat that. Not only did the kid eat it, he asked for more. Kids like to sample. Their favorites are peas and carrots in late June and early July.” After a few trips to the farmers market, your toddler might want to help you pick out healthy treats or plan a healthy dinner. At home, they can rip the lettuce you bought for a salad or help wash or sort the veggies.