Most of us have memorable summers thought out and planned. Going to the beach, catching some fireworks, going on a vacation, fishing on the lake, and going to the State Fair are just a few of the things that Minnesotans look forward to come summertime. What is often overlooked is the chance to really embrace what "supporting and shopping local" truly represents. The best chance to do so is during the summer season at farmers markets, which are still an unsung gem of The Land of 10,000 Lakes.

There are tons of reasons to explore and celebrate the plethora of farmers markets in Minnesota. No matter if you’re from the Twin Cities or the rural landscape, each one provides a home grown and close knit experience. Many of these local gatherings do so every weekend throughout the summer, giving you a fun opportunity to talk to and get to know your farmer each week. Additionally, you may come across some regulars who will direct you to the freshest products. And hey, you will learn very quickly that farmers markets are not just about the produce anymore.

While it is great to compare different brands of produce for quality and prices, there are other great things to see at farmers markets all around Minnesota. Several local companies are selling goods such as jams, olives, nuts, coffee, maple syrup and even fresh cut flowers. Plus, if you are eligible for food stamps, or EBT, several markets will gladly accept them, making your shopping experience more pleasurable.

It's not just your experience at a market that could be a good one either. Whether you have kids or not, they are a great place for them to go too. Perhaps you babysit during the summer. Why not introduce the kids to an event with not only food, but fun and games as well? Several markets throughout the state offer sampling of food, which most adults and kids tend to go crazy for. There are also arts and crafts stations for the kids to try out along with interactive games like bean bag toss. Adding on to the fun, they offer a wonderful opportunity for them to get exposed to a community setting and perhaps, meet a new friend or two. Personally, I still enjoy going to Bloomington, Minnesota's farmers market every Saturday in the summer because of the variety of people and activities to see.

For all of you fellow nutrition majors or science majors, farmers markets may also be the place to see some connections. All of the produce grown have some ties to nutrition, agriculture, biology, and even chemistry. Talk to the farmers and the people behind the products. You might find yourself in line for a nice resume builder for a dream job down the line. Struggling to find a dietetic internship match currently, a registered dietitian gave me this advice a year ago. Since my confidence has now grown as it pertains to networking and digging for information, I will be giving this a shot at my farmers market not only for myself, but also for those that may be in the same spot as me in the future.

No matter if you are in high school or college, most of you are looking forward to the future. You are looking forward to summer and celebrating the hours upon hours spent studying. So, why not give back to an entire community by supporting local goods, but also support and celebrate the hard work it takes to grow and transport all of these goods just as you celebrate your accomplishments. Pay it forward and show appreciation for what putting on these local events really takes.

So, Minnesota's farmers markets offer a wide array of activities for you to do that will cure any boredom you have of the typical summer shindigs. There is the opportunity to get out and enjoy the sun on a lovely walk around the stations, explore the different types of local goods, meet some friendly people, experience a youthful environment, make connections, and celebrate hard work. With all of these options, it's now time to expand your horizons and make farmers markets part of your summer bucket list.