Ever wonder how to eat local? How to manage on a budget, or simple ways to shift into changing what to eat, or how to tackle new experiences like visiting a U-Pick or growing your own food? We’ve put together this short guide with tips, resources and ways to find more connections around eating local year-round!

Shop the farmers market 

With 41 farmers markets open this season, you’re never far from fresh, local food in King County. Check out these shopping tips from the Renton Farmers Market to make the most out of your market day. And remember, August is a great time to buy seconds which are fruits and vegetables that are slightly discolored or have blemishes. They’re great for freezing, preserving or making sauces! 

U-Picks: Know before you go 

There are plenty of berry picking opportunities around King County, and many farms also have U-pick crops like flowers and vegetables.  Start with a plan for your bounty before you go – will you pickle, preserve, freeze or cook? Is there enough room in the fridge or freezer? Then find a farm that’s ripe and ready for your U-pick adventure!

  • Always check farm websites (or better yet, social media) on the day you plan to go to make sure they’re open. Farms can be weather dependent and will often close early if picked over.
  • Mornings are best as fields can be picked over by lunchtime 
  • Bring sunscreen, hats and plenty of water. Wear comfortable clothes (long sleeves and pants are best) and close-toed shoes. You want to protect yourself from too much sun, prickly vines, bushes and bugs.  
  • Most farms accept plastic, bring cash or checks just in case 
  • Many provide containers free of charge, but bring a few of your own  
  • Leave your pets at home 
  • Respect the farm; know and follow the rules

Food Access and Food Benefit Programs 

Because everyone deserves healthy delicious food! Many (if not all) King County farmers markets offer SNAP/EBT matching through the SNAP Market Match program.  Most farmers markets also accept cash, credit/debit cards, EBT cardsSNAP/Basic Food, and Fresh Bucks, although individual market vendors may vary. Some markets also allow you to buy market tokens to use as cash to purchase market goods. Here’s a list of agencies and organizations that provide food access opportunities.

Grow your own food 

Growing your own food is another way to eat local, from a single pot of your favorite herb to a garden full of edible goodness. King County is brimming with learning opportunities and gardening resources that can help you source and grow food in a way that’s good for you and the planet. 

Look for local seeds and starts from King County farms, farmers markets, co-ops, annual plant sales like Tilth Alliance’s Edible Plant Sale. Check out seed swap events or visit a P-Patch garden community for inspiration. From tiny pots to community plots, growing your own food is a restorative act, rooted in giving back to earth and ourselves. 

We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite go-to places for all things gardening and growing good food!