Saturdays in college towns are usually known for football games and tailgating, but if that's not your thing, it's not the only way to enjoy your weekends in college during the fall semester. Going to a farmer's market is a great way to get some fresh, local produce for super cheap prices (perfect for that college budget) while getting to know the people in your local community. 

Ashleigh Monaco

If you're unsure about the best ways to navigate your nearby market, here are some tips for getting the most out of your trip:

1. Shop around

Ashleigh Monaco

Looking for a big bag of potatoes, some green beans, or a few tomatoes? Don't feel like you have to buy products from the first vendor you see. Chances are, someone else has what you want for a cheaper price. Give yourself enough time to take a few laps around, compare prices, and make sure you didn't miss anything.

2. Get yourself a treat

Ashleigh Monaco

Besides veggies and fruit, there are often vendors that sell homemade treats like breads, pastries, honey, granola, and even raw chocolate. Even if you are there to be (somewhat of) an adult and buy your groceries, that doesn't mean you can't treat yourself.

Buy something fun for yourself and support local businesses! Plus, you've had a long week, and dessert makes everything better.

3. Take advantage of food trucks and vendors

Ashleigh Monaco

Bigger farmer's markets tend to feature local food trucks and vendors, so take advantage and combine breakfast and shopping in one trip.

If anything, get yourself a cup of coffee -- it's best to go to the farmer's markets early (so you're not buying produce that's been sitting out all day, or missing out on buying something that sells out quickly), so you'll probably need the caffeine jolt. It'll make carrying that giant squash home a bit easier, too.

4. Strike up conversations

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Sam Jesner

Rather than buying your produce and walking away immediately, take the time to ask the sellers about their growing practices. Such as, how long they've lived in the community, how long they've been selling at the farmer's market, or if they sell at any other markets.

Unless the vendor has a super huge line of people waiting to buy products, a simple conversation can be a great way to become a part of the community and get to know some locals. 

5. Get cash

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Anna Arteaga

A majority (if not all) of vendors will only accept cash, so make sure you have some set aside beforehand to prevent from having to do it the morning of, or even leaving the market to hit up the nearest ATM.

Some markets, like the Iowa City Farmer's Market, sell "market tokens" that can be paid for with a credit or debit card and be used in place of cash. If you're not sure if your local market has this kind of service, bring some cash to be on the safe side.

6. Bring reusable bags

Ashleigh Monaco

Save yourself the trouble of carrying a bunch of awkward plastic and paper bags home and get yourself some reusable ones. The environment and your arms will thank you.

7. Only buy what you can carry home

Hailey Tom

If you know you need to buy a lot, but also know you have to walk fifteen blocks home back to your apartment, you might want to figure out another way to get your produce home. If you don't have a car available to you, ask a friend to drive you to and from the market to make transporting your produce easier.

Even without a car, you could ask a friend if he or she would be willing to help you with your farmer's market haul. I'd advise against just handing your friend a giant watermelon without asking and expecting them to carry it home for you, though, unless you're treating them to breakfast or something afterwards. 

8. Bring friends

Ashleigh Monaco

Because friends are great company at a farmer's market, for obvious reasons other than carrying your stuff. 

9. Try something new

Ashleigh Monaco

Chances are, there will be some variety of apple for sale that you've never heard of, or an herb you've never cooked with. If you're unsure about how to cook something, ask the sellers, or when in doubt, turn to Pinterest. 

Ashleigh Monaco

There are plenty of ways to make the most out of your trip to the farmer's market. Not only can you get cheap, fresh food, but your purchases help support the people in your community. Don't hesitate to make as many laps as you need, either, to see everything your market has to offer.

And hey, even if you are into tailgating and football games on Saturdays, no reason why you can't do both. Although, I wouldn't recommend produce shopping while drunk. Don't want to accidentally buy a rotten bunch of carrots or something...