The riches of the Greek land that have been providing its people with inexhaustible local produce for thousands of years are known across the world for their incredible taste and nutritious benefits. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the visitors of Greece take interest in exploring and tasting the fresh fruits and vegetables the locals enjoy on the daily.
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‘Laiki agora’, the Greek Farmer’s Market is a beloved institution that has been established since antiquity and provides the Greeks with local products on a weekly bases. Find out below everything you need to know about the Farmer’s Market, from the history behind it to tips for shopping at it and prepare for your next trip to Athens!
The institution of ‘laiki agora’ has been known since the years of the Ottoman Empire, when the famous ‘pazari’ -which translates verbatim to ‘bargain’- took place on a specific day of the week in big residential centers. There, producers, such as farmers, gardeners, and craftsmen from the surrounding areas sold their produce directly to consumers. However, ‘laiki agora’ was legally established in 1929 under the government of Eleftherios Venizelos, with the establishment of the Farmer’s Market Fund following soon after.
A typical 'laiki agora' in Athens - credits: greeking.me
There are two types of sellers one can find on the Farmer’s Market in Greece: the producers, who are farmers that sell their own products whether it is fruits, vegetables or honey, and the professionals, who that resell the products that are not their own but have been purchased from other local producers instead.
Where and when can you find the Greek Farmer’s Market you ask? You can find the days and Athenian neighborhoods ‘laiki agora’ takes place weekly here. Farmer’s Markets are also a tradition for many, if not all, cities, however, Athens -being the Greek capital and all that- carries the most impressive and popular ones, with almost 44 popular ones taking place within the city limits.
If you decide to visit a ‘laiki agora’ during your trip to Greece, you should keep in mind that there is a cultural code that the locals follow and you should try to follow too. Here are some tips for shopping at the Greek Farmer’s Market:
- If it’s not in-season, it’s not there, so make your shopping list accordingly
- Bring a tote bag if you’re thinking about getting just a couple bits and bobs or a cart if you’re going to town! No one likes a hurt back.
- Take small euro notes and change with you. A big advantage of the Farmer’s Market is the cheap prices, however, the drawback is that it is cash only and sellers don’t appreciate having to give change from a 50 euro bill!
- The sellers will probably try to choose the pieces for you; trust them, but always keep your eyes open, it’s a jungle out there.
- On the course of the day, sellers lower the prices of the products, however, the later you go the less chance you have on getting the top quality produce, it’s up to you!
Fresh vegetables found in 'laiki agora' - credits: greeking.me
It would be a pity to visit Greece -or visit Athens in particular- without visiting at least one ‘laiki agora’ to get an insight into the food culture of Greece. You can even visit Athens’ Central Market, the place where the heart of Greek gastronomy beats if you join us on an Athens for Foodies Tour!
Now you’re ready to conquer the Farmer’s Market the Greek way!