7 Farmers Markets Worth a Special Trip

Featured Article, Healthy Recipes and Nutrition
on July 9, 2012
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Farmers markets aren’t just places to buy your food for the week—they’ve become events in themselves, with live music, cooking demos from top chefs and various other expressions of local flavor. Here, we serve up 7 of the best—perfect for a stop on a family road trip or as a destination in themselves for summer travelers.
markets the country has to offer—some in unexpected places.

1.    Where: The City Market in Charlottesville, Va.

Why it’s the best: The 100-plus-vendor market’s grassroots artisans supply everything from luxurious olive oil soaps to handcrafted cotton infant clothing. The market also just launched a community-supported fishery, where locals pre-pay for a share of their local fisherman’s harvest. Don’t miss the taco stand for fresh-pressed tortillas and authentic Mexican cuisine; and The Donut Guy, who cranks out scrumptious, fresh donuts from an automated machine. Among local performances, like bluegrass bands and classical musicians, is a poet who, for $5, will craft a personal poem for you on her Smith-Corona typewriter.

When: Saturdays, April-October, 7 a.m.-noon; November-December, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

More info: marketcentralonline.org

2.    Where: Pepper Place in Birmingham, Ala.


Why it’s the best: Among the regulars who come out in droves to socialize and support the 88 local vendors at the see-and-be-seen Pepper Place is Birmingham chef and James Beard Award-winner Frank Stitt of Highlands restaurant. Two to write home about: Petals From the Past, which produces the most luscious roses you’ve ever seen, and Stone Hollow Farmstead, which creates artisanal goat cheese creatively flavored with farm-grown figs, blackberries, roses petals and olives. Catch a cooking demo with chefs Chris and Laura Zapalowski of The Homewood Gourmet—then down one of their killer breakfast burritos.

When: Saturdays, April through December, 7 a.m.-noon

More info: pepperplacemarket.com

3.    Where: Murfreesboro Saturday Market, Murfreesboro, Tenn. 

Why it’s the best: Get down with some local bacon and brats, among the plentiful other offerings, at this market that’s located just steps from the historic downtown courthouse (one of five antebellum courthouses in the Volunteer state). The 57 vendors (there’s a long waiting list to participate) at this vibrant, friendly market all sell Tennessee-farm products like fresh corn, peaches, blackberries, blueberries and tomatoes; and all your other faves likes eggs, honey, grass-fed beef, home-baked breads and delish cakes. You will leave hungry, that’s for sure. Hungry for more, that is.

When: Saturdays, June-October, 8 a.m.-noon

More info: downtownmurfreesboro.com

4.    Where: Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, Santa Fe, NM

Why it’s the best: This market means local business—farmers must come from one of the 15 counties surrounding Santa Fe. Distinctly southwestern produce is up for grabs at the 100-plus-vendor market, like jujubes (a desert fruit that can be dried or steeped in tea), dried chilies, hot tamales, desert fungi (crazy varieties of regional mushrooms!), grass-fed yak and yak jerky, buffalo meat, cactus, gourd ornaments, sage smudge sticks and more. It’s really a fascinating look into the local culture and agriculture, which makes this scene well worth the trip.

When: Year-round on Saturdays and Tuesdays, 7 a.m.-noon; artisan market on Sundays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

More info: santafefarmersmarket.com

5.    Where: Crescent City Farmers’ Market, New Orleans, La.

Why it’s the best: Held in the downtown Warehouse District, chefs from some of NOLA’s best restaurants—like local and visitor favorite Cochon (which is just around the corner)—are on the prowl for ingredients at this 30-vendor market. We can see why, with Louisiana farm fare like hothouse cucumbers, bread and butter pickles, Creole tomatoes, tangelos and okra. Plus, you’ll find everything from wild-caught catfish and soft-shell crabs to alligator and turtle meat—it is on the bayou, after all! Grab a fresh-fruit popsicle from Amanda’s Frozen Fruit Bars to beat the notorious heat and prep for your culinary inventions by bringing your Wusthof and Henckels to Arthur Jones Knife Sharpening.

When: Year-round on Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon

More info: crescentcityfarmersmarket.org


6.    Where: Port Townsend Farmers Market, Washington.

Why it’s the best: Park your bike in the bike parking lot (so gas-conservationist of you) and pop into the 20-year-old market that showcases over 70 vendors each week, including 30 different farms. A few offerings you just don’t want to miss: Finnriver Farm’s ciders, including blueberry apple, black currant and dry-hopped; Midori Farm’s certified-organic fermented sauerkrauts and kimchi; and Mystery Bay Seafood Catering’s grilled and shucked-on-the-spot oysters and gluten-free seafood chowder. This Washington market’s got its nod to sustainability down pat.

When: Saturdays, April-December, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

More info: http://www.ptfarmersmarket.org
7.    Where: Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, Los Angeles, CA

Why it’s the best: One of four Santa Monica’s weekly markets, the Wednesday Market, established in 1981, is one of the largest and most diverse grower-only California Certified Farmers’ Markets in the nation. About 9,000 food shoppers and many of L.A.’s best-known chefs (hello, Mark Peel from Campanile) make a weekly visit to the 75 farmers for ingredients like beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, wheat berries, mangoes, avocados and pomelo fruits; and organically grown herbs and specialty bottled oils. Plus, each week, the market features a restaurant from Downtown Santa Monica, like the covetable Sugarfish Sushi or FIG, to catch a munch while you shop.

When: Year-round on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

More info: smgov.net/portals/farmersmarket/

RELATED: Smarter Farmers’ Market Shopping