March is national nutrition month, and a great way to improve your health is to eat
more fruits and vegetables. Southern Oregon’s hospitable climate allows for variety in locally
grown produce. You can boost your nutrients intake by looking for seasonal fruits and
vegetables in your local grocery, visiting a growers market or even picking your own.
Growers markets around Southern Oregon are opening this month, offering an array of locally
grown and made food options. You can visit weekly growers markets in Ashland, Central Point,
Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Medford and Talent through the fall. Here’s a few tips for making the
most of an outing at a farmers market:
- Get there early. Growers only come to market with so much and when it’s gone, it’s
- Know what’s in season.
- Shop around. Do one full round of the market first to check out the selection of goods
and prices, then do a second trip to buy what you want.
- Try new things. Be curious and daring, and don’t get into a rut.
- If in doubt, ask. Ask the vendor or farmer for recipes and tips for using their produce.
- Bring a bag or bags.
- Don’t bring your pet.
- Dress in layers, so you can shed clothes as temperatures rise. Wear sunscreen!
- Bring cash and small bills.
You can find pick-your-own farms for apples, blueberries, pears, peaches, raspberries and
strawberries in the Rogue Valley. Peak harvesting seasons vary greatly, so calling ahead is
helpful. Here are few tips for picking your own fruit:
- Bring containers. Most farms provide baskets for picking but prefer that you bring your
own containers for transporting your bounty home. If you're picking delicate berries, be
sure the containers are shallow, so the weight of the top berries doesn't crush the ones
- Respect the farm. Remember that when you visit a farm, you are a visitor. Often, it is
both the family's home and business. Respect their property and dispose of trash in the
proper receptacles. Do not damage plants or trees or wander into restricted areas, and
do NOT bring pets. Follow the rules for where and how to pick.
- Ask for advice. If you’re not sure if the fruit or vegetable you’re picking is ripe. Pears can
be picked a little on the green side, but peaches do not ripen well once picked.
Did you know?
Some markets have programs to encourage people to eat fresh produce, such as Seniors
Farmers Market Nutrition Program for low-income seniors, WIC Farmers Market Nutrition
Program and Oregon Trail (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) card.