10 things to do at the Memphis Farmers Market besides buying produce

The Memphis Farmers Market returns to the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson this Saturday, April 1. It will run every Saturday though October 28 from 7 AM to 1 PM.

It’s a place to purchase fruits and vegetables, for sure, but the Memphis Farmers Market has so much more to offer. Here are 10 things you can do at the Market other than buying fresh produce.

1. Listen to live music

Every week there are two or three live musicians/bands at the Market. Chairs are set up so you can get off your feet for a little while and take in some tunes.

If you want to get connected with the South Main music scene, find music director Mark Parsell at the Market and ask him where you should go, what bands you should see. Not only does he book music at the Market, but at South Main Sounds’ songwriter nights and at bars in the area.

2. Eat

Go to the back of the main pavilion, behind the restrooms, and you’ll find a Bluff City Coffee stand and some food trucks. Not sure which ones they’ll have this year, but in the past, the Fuel truck has been there selling its bison tacos and breakfast burritos. Rock ‘n’ Dough was selling pizza including breakfast pizza. Monkey Train Grazing Co. was there with burgers and pork mole mac & cheese. My favorite, however, was the Tandoori Cuisine truck selling kabobs, chickpeas, naan, basmati rice, and other dishes.

Cuisine from the tandoori truck

Bluff City Coffee sells an extensive array of pastries. Check out the duffin, a creation that is half donut, half muffin. The cinnamon one is my favorite.

The So Fresh juice truck is usually there selling smoothies and juices. Note that this is a very popular truck and waits for your orders can exceed 15 minutes during peak season.

The So Fresh juice truck

3. Get your dog a sitter and buy him some treats. Don’t have a dog? Adopt one.

Due to Health Department regulations, dogs aren’t allowed under the main pavilion where food is sold. However, Memphis Farmers Market volunteers provide a pet-sitting service on the grass near Front and G.E. Patterson. They will watch your pooch while you shop.

There is a vendor who sells homemade dog treats. All-natural ingredients are used to keep your pet in the best health possible. Also, some of the meat vendors (see below) have bones for your dog.

If you don’t have a dog but want to own or foster one, most weeks rescues set up shop on the grass with dogs that are ready and willing to find a new home.

4. Use your card.

Most vendors are cash-only, but if you stop by the information booth at the front of the Market, they can run your credit, debit, or EBT card. They will then give you tokens to spend with the vendors.

5. Decorate your home.

Pottery, bird houses, wind chimes, and plants are some of the items sold at vendor booths that you can use to spruce up the inside or outside of your home. In the fall, decorative gourds are on sale at several vendor booths.

Of course, there are also flowers! Whitton Farms and several other vendors sell all kinds of flowers. Perfect to put in a vase for the centerpiece of your dinner table. Or, give them to your sweetheart.

Sunflower from one of the flower vendors

6. Round out your grocery shopping.

Almost any cut of beef you can think of is available at the Market. You can buy ribs, bacon, and other cuts of pork. Chicken is sold too. There’s a refrigerated truck selling fresh seafood. I don’t know if any vegetarians who read my blog are regulars at the Market, but if there are any, there’s even a vendor called Pigasus who sells smoked tofu. Fresh eggs are also sold to put on your breakfast plate.

You can also buy jellies, jams, preserves, and honey from multiple vendors to put on that breakfast plate, perhaps on top of bread sold by a Market vendor. There are fresh cheeses (including goat cheese) sold too.

I’m not saying you can complete all your shopping for the week at the Market – you won’t find toilet paper and diapers for sale there – but get an Amazon Prime subscription for those and you’re basically done.

7. Bring the kids

Some weeks there are kids’ activities where they can make crafts to take home, with the activities led by a Market volunteer. If your kids have lived in the city all their lives, they can get the chance to learn what life is like on the farm.

Be sure to take your kids by the vendor selling frozen pops and Italian ice when it’s hot outside. The cherry Italian ice is my favorite, although it makes me look like I put lipstick on.

8. Sauce it up

I love spicy food. Two of my favorite Market vendors sell hot sauce. Check out Papi Joe’s booth for his Tennessee hot sauce (he often has samples). Farther back under the pavilion, look for Crazy Good sauces, selling sauces with several different levels of heat and Bloody Mary mix too.

Papi Joe’s Tennessee pepper sauce

9. Take home pre-made meals

If you don’t have time to cook the meats and fresh produce sold at the Market, no problem, there are still options for you. There are vendors that sell pre-made soups, sides, and entrees ready to take home and heat up.

10. … and much more!

Really, there’s too much going on at the Market to get it done in 10 items. You never know what you’re going to find there.

Cooking demos happen from time to time. Felicia from Felicia Suzanne’s occasionally will show up to give cooking demos using her Flo’s line of products. Folks from UT Health Center also come over the Market to give demos on how to cook healthy food, often matching up to the Farmers Market theme of the week.

YOGA! Downtown Yoga taught several complimentary classes at the Market last year, laying yoga mats out over the grass near Front and G.E. Patterson.

For Market patrons who grow their own garden, Master Gardeners were on hand several times last year for helpful Q&A sessions.

Med and pharmacy students came to the Market last year and offered free blood pressure screenings and passed out tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading. I hope to see you at the Market this Saturday, and Saturdays throughout the season!