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Who Knew? Farmers Markets Take Plastic

Sustainable-food advocate Odessa Piper often uses her debit card at the Silver Spring market. (The Washington Post)

There's something pleasantly old-school about shopping at the farmers market. Carrying a basket. Talking to the farmers. Paying cash.

Okay. Paying cash is not always pleasant, especially when you run out. It turns out that at many markets around the city you can use a debit card, not just for purchases at individual vendors but in one fell swoop. Debit cards are welcome at markets in Adams Morgan, Bloomingdale, Crossroads, H Street NE, Mount Pleasant, Takoma Park, Silver Spring, 14th and U, and Ward 8.

(Any others I am missing? Let me know.)

Here's how it works: Go to the information stand and ask the volunteer to swipe your card. You can swipe any amount in $5 increments. For each $5 you spend, you will get one wooden token that you can use to shop at any stand, and get cash change back.

By accepting debit cards, markets make it easy for customers, and the small fee you would often pay a bank if using the card at an ATM goes directly to the market. At the FreshFarm markets at Silver Spring and H Street, a $2 fee helps cover the costs of accepting food stamps and fruit and vegetable vouchers for low-income women and senior citizens. Fees vary from market to market.

For more information about some types of electronic purchases at farmers markets, read my recent article about how markets are doubling food stamps here.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  May 29, 2009; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Sustainable Food , To Market, To Market  | Tags: Jane Black, farmers markets  
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