As winter gave way to spring and the summer growing season followed, people began reawakening to the prospects of what a post-pandemic world might look like. While we’re not out of the woods yet, in many states, distribution of vaccines and effective health protocols are helping us make a return to some kind of regular routine that is more in sight every day.
The seasonal return of local farmers’ markets this year is a welcome dose of normalcy in a marketplace hungry for seasonal, farm-fresh foods grown close to home. They’re also a healthy alternative to traditional grocery stores and a supplement to tiresome and repetitive home deliveries. The sheer number of farmers’ markets has surged in recent years, from just under 2,000 in 1994 to more than 8,600 markets currently registered in the USDA Farmers Market Directory, as demand for such foods is driving the trend. Safety protocols – including mask requirements, online ordering portals and drive-through or curbside-pickup options – helped markets weather the 2020 storm. Many of these measures will still be in place this year.
Earlier this year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered highlights in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (HR 1319). The US House of Representatives passed this plan in March. The USDA said the legislation responds to the pandemic’s disruptions in the food supply chain. The response includes investments in infrastructure and retooling support for farmers’ markets, food processors and producers. This is good news for farmers, and the support could be timely. Earlier this year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told a virtual convention of the National Farmers Union that department research showed US ranchers and farmers already faced financial challenges long before the pandemic began.
“It was amazing to me that 89.6% of America’s farmers, ranchers and producers do not make a majority of their money from their farming operations,” he told the assembly. One silver lining of sorts in the first year of the pandemic lockdown was the spotlight on home cooking and baking, fueled in part by social media activity plus consumers spending far more time at home in work-from-home arrangements. Another takeaway is the pandemic’s reminders of wellness, immunity and prevention.
Add those dynamics to the nutritional and environmental advantages of eating locally, and the old concept of a good local farmers’ market might be more relevant than ever. Supporting local producers helps boost the health of any community, while the shared experience of spending time again with farmers and fellow shoppers will be a welcome change of pace. Clean Eating has curated an updated list of suggested farmers’ markets throughout the US. In addition to these standout spots, let your eyes and taste buds be your guide. The best new market may be the one you discover – either close to home or on your next road trip. And we want to know about it! Tag @cleaneatingmag and use hashtag #CEMarketFind in a post of your market find or haul.
Birmingham | Annual
One of the oldest producer-owned markets in the United States, the Alabama Farmers Market operates all year and features foods from small farms throughout the state. The market highlights local vegetables, fruits, nuts and other goods – think sweet corn, squash, pecans and peppers – that thrive in this warm growing region.
Anchorage | May – October
The Anchorage Farmers Market is a weekly Saturday staple for lovers of local foods despite the cold climate. Producers like Arctic Organics cultivate certified organic produce in the soils of a glacial valley and employ greenhouse growing for select plants. The market is proof that even apples can thrive in a frigid climate.
Gilbert | Annual
The Gilbert Farmers’ Market operates every Saturday morning in downtown Gilbert, just southeast of Phoenix near the famous water tower. This market boasts grass-fed beef, hormone- and antibiotic-free pork, local produce, artisanal cheeses and more.
Fayetteville | Annual
The Fayetteville Farmers’ Market is a staple of downtown Fayetteville culture and the local food economy of northwest Arkansas. The market operates year-round, with limited winter hours. Keep an eye on their social media for frequent updates.
Santa Monica | Annual
Operating at multiple locations several days per week, the Santa Monica markets are considered among the top producer markets in the US, drawing consumers and chefs alike from the Los Angeles area and beyond.
Boulder | April – November
This market at the foothills of the Flatirons just north of Denver is a prime spot for local pasture-grazed meats, seasonal vegetables and other delicacies fueled by the near-constant sun. Markets are held Saturdays with some Wednesday installments.
Stonington | Annual
This market in the town of Stonington operates throughout the year, with outdoor markets in the spring and summer and indoors during colder months. Vendors hawk wares, from fresh, local produce, eggs and meats to locally produced jams, breads and pies.
Wilmington | May – October
The Downtown Farmers’ Market at Rodney Square is a hub of activity for cultural events in downtown Wilmington. The market spotlights local producers selling fresh produce, cut flowers, herbs and plants.
District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
Columbia Heights | April – December, with winter hours
Food advocacy group FRESHFARM Markets operates a number of producer markets throughout DC, and the market at Columbia Heights is one of its top spots. Open most of the year on Saturdays and Wednesdays, the market spotlights fresh meats, produce and fish from the surrounding mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay regions.
St. Petersburg | October – May, plus July – September
Perched near the Sunshine State’s Gulf Coast, the Saturday Morning Market operates in two separate locations to accommodate the region’s long growing seasons and extreme heat. Producers sell everything from fresh produce and locally made jams and jellies to ready-to-eat prepared foods and even fresh empanadas.
Atlanta | Annual
The Freedom Farmers Market is a destination for some of the southeast’s best vegetables, honey, those famous Georgia peaches and artisanal goat cheeses. Based near Atlanta’s Freedom Park Trail, the market represents a sense of independence for consumers as well as producers, who manage the market through an independent board. The initiative has roots in a group of Georgia farmers with the vision of supplying sustainably grown food to the neighboring community.
Hilo | Annual
Producers at the Hilo Farmers’ Market offer a number of island specialties, from fresh-cut flowers and produce to local honeys and prepared foods such as poke bowls and specialty beverages. The operation runs seven days per week, with “big market days” on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Bonners Ferry | April – October
One of the oldest farmers’ markets in Idaho, the Bonners Ferry Market has expanded steadily over its 30-year run. Area farmers showcase local lamb, chicken and other pasture-grazed meats. Growers sell organic fruits and vegetables, including sweet corn, herbs and, of course, Idaho potatoes.
Evanston | Seasonal, varies by location
The city of Evanston, just north of Chicago, is where hungry patrons can find foods from more than 50 producers of dairy products, fresh produce and locally brewed kombucha, among other goods. The Evanston Farmers’ Market is home to Henry’s Farm, a longtime purveyor of fine heirloom vegetables.
Indianapolis | Annual
The Broad Ripple Farmers’ Market combines summer and winter markets into a year-round offering for food lovers and producers alike. Local fruit and vegetable vendors share the space with juice purveyors, cheesemakers and bison ranchers at the Glendale Town Center shopping mall.
Iowa City | May – October
The community of Iowa City holds its community farmers’ market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Shoppers can find everything from pastured meats to local produce to handmade soaps. Ready-to-eat foods like tacos, burritos and granola are also on offer.
Louisville | Saturdays
The Bardstown Road Farmers’ Market is staged on Saturdays throughout the year. Vendors display local berries, artisanal cheeses, meats and varied produce selections for shoppers in Kentucky’s largest city. The market is even managed by local farmers.
New Orleans | Annual
Home to the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM), South Louisiana offers tropical growing conditions where farmers cultivate the rich soils throughout the parishes clustered along the Mississippi River near Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico. CCFM partners with Top Box Foods to offer home delivery boxes of vendor products every Tuesday.
Portland | Annual
Since the 18th century, Portland Farmers’ Market in Maine’s largest city has been a hub for all things delicious in the nation’s northeastern corner – oysters, fruits and vegetables grown on inland farms, fine cheeses, and pastured pork and beef. Markets are open Saturdays all year plus Wednesdays in summertime.
Baltimore | Annual
Producers at the nonprofit 32nd Street Farmers’ Market in Charm City offer an abundance of local produce, prepared foods and fresh flowers to patrons from all economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. At the growing season’s peak, the mid-Atlantic’s hot climate provides excellent conditions for tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables.
Gloucester | June – October
The Cape Ann Farmers Market is a small but lively producer market showcasing the best of coastal New England. Shoppers can find local seafood selections, fresh produce and artisanal baked goods during its Thursday markets.
Grand Rapids | Summer and Winter Markets
The Fulton Street Farmers’ Market is the largest producer market in thriving Grand Rapids and offers an enormous, diverse selection of foods harvested from Michigan’s rich farmlands. The market showcases more than 100 vendors outdoors plus indoor booths while operating multiple days every week throughout the summer and once a week in winter.
Minneapolis | Summer and Winter Markets
The Central Minnesota Vegetable Growers Association hosts this produce market, which has served consumers in the Twin Cities since the 19th century. The market operates seasonally with changing dates available on their site. Roughly 200 producers display their goods, sharing use of 170 market stalls with everything from in-season produce and meats to cheeses, honey and salsas.
Oxford | May – October
The city of Oxford is a major college town in the US and home to the University of Mississippi. The city’s Midtown Farmers’ Market is a weekend community event, located in Midtown Shopping Center, that operates every Saturday beginning in May. The market is a hub for pasture-grazed meats, local chicken and duck eggs, plus an abundance of okra, watermelons, peas, peppers and other fresh produce.
St. Louis | Summer and Winter Markets
The Soulard Farmers’ Market near downtown St. Louis is among the oldest public markets operating in the US. Producers there have served countless St. Louisans with fresh meats and eggs, baked goods, produce and honey near the banks of the Mississippi River. Live music is offered on Saturdays, no matter the weather.
Missoula | May – October
The Clark Fork River Market in Missoula is a little gem in the “Big Sky” lands of Montana, where shoppers can congregate and shop for free-range meats, fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, honey and starter plants from local ranchers and farmers. Guests can also find fresh pastries, breads, kombuchas, jams, flowers and woolen wares from area crafters.
Omaha | May – October
This market in Nebraska’s largest city showcases foods from the surrounding farm country every Saturday and Sunday at two locations during growing seasons. On select nights during the summer months, special night markets are held at the city’s Turner Park. No matter the day or location, expect to find some of the region’s best vegetables and grains, free-range pork and chicken, pastured beef, specialty coffees and hot sauces.
Las Vegas | Annual
The Fresh52 Farmers’ Market is a hotspot for cooks hungry for fresh, locally grown foods in the surrounding desert landscape. Producers and shoppers flock to the market every Friday for organic produce, essential oils and soaps, vegan pastries and breads, and handcrafted jewelry. With its official state certification, the Fresh52 is a fantastic place to learn about the roles of irrigation and aquaculture in local food systems.
Salem | Seasonal
The Salem NH Farmers Market is a relatively new initiative, established in 2010 to showcase locally grown foods from a variety of vendors who participate in the market. Since its inception by founder Jane Lang, the market works to build exposure for farmers and entrepreneurs and to serve the growing demand for fresh, nutritious foods. Vendors offer seafood chowders, in-season produce, artisanal cheeses and other dairy products, and even local kombuchas and kefirs.
Moorestown | May – October
The Burlington County Farmers’ Market operates on the pastoral grounds of the Burlington County Agricultural Center, a jewel of west-central New Jersey just east of Philadelphia. The Saturday markets provide a range of fresh foods from regional farms. The center is a great spot for checking out the community gardens and a commercial kitchen space. Educational events including culinary classes are also held throughout the year.
Albuquerque | April – November
The Downtown Growers’ Market is a southwestern destination for a variety of regional chile peppers as well as an abundance of other beautiful produce, local beef, fresh breads, artisanal honey and indigenous artwork. Local chefs also serve dishes like burritos, vegetable samosas, jerk chicken and other delights.
Ithaca | Annual
The Ithaca Farmers Market in central New York’s Finger Lakes region thrives due to the high demand for interesting, nutritious local foods. Despite the long, intense winter, farmers throughout the region cultivate many greens and other vegetables in greenhouses. Multiple weekly markets operate during the peak growing season, with a regular winter market held on Saturdays. A yearly street festival and sampling of Ithaca’s locavore movement with area restaurants are additional highlights.
Chapel Hill | Annual
The Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market launched in 2008 with the efforts of Farmers of Orange, a nonprofit organization created for local farmers by local farmers. Producers and artisans farm within 60 miles of Chapel Hill, where they bring fresh, quality produce, value-added farm products and crafts to market Tuesdays and Saturdays all year.
Columbus | April – November, with winter hours
The Clintonville Farmers’ Market serves shoppers from throughout the metro area with 60 area producers, showcasing seasonal produce, locally pastured meats, eggs, dairy products and baked goods. The market temporarily relocated for 2020-21 from the heart of its namesake neighborhood to a large outdoor space several miles away at the Ohio History Center, which allows for social distancing measures.
Tulsa | Annual
The Tulsa Farmers’ Market (formerly the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market) is a hub of Tulsa’s local food culture. Its lineup of growers gather on Saturdays and Wednesdays to show off natural beef, pork and lamb plus seasonal produce and dairy products. Winter markets are also featured. Since its launch in 1998, this market has grown into the largest producer market in Oklahoma.
Oregon City | Annual
The Oregon City Farmers Market operates at the Clackamas County Red Soils campus in central Oregon City. Throughout the year, market days are a showcase for local fruit and vegetable producers, ranchers, bakers, winemakers, distillers and craft brewers. In summer months, area chefs demonstrate dishes with seasonal produce, meats and seafood. An additional winter market season opens in November and runs every other week through April.
Philadelphia | Annual
The city of Philadelphia anchors the Eastern Pennsylvania region, home to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Revolution-era history and, of course, great food and drink. The Rittenhouse Saturday Farmers’ Market is a small but lively staple of the historic neighborhood for which it is named. Producers feature seasonal produce, natural skin-care products, wines, distilled spirits and other delights.
Providence | May – October
Rain or shine, the Hope Street Saturday Farmers’ Market features locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised meats, cheeses, coastal seafood, breads, coffee and more. The market, staged at Lippitt Park, coincides with an outdoor art show called the Providence Artisans Market, held at the southern end of the park.
Charleston | April – November
The Charleston Farmers’ Market is a lively part of this historic city’s deep culinary heritage. On Saturdays, producers from the surrounding low-country region offer locally harvested sea salts, raw milk, ripe peaches and other fruits, and loads of greens and sun-loving vegetables. Other draws are the prepared foods, including crepes and roti rolls, plus kombuchas, coffees and other refreshments.
Rapid City | July – October
Set in South Dakota’s Black Hills region, Rapid City is home to a vibrant farmers’ market. Seasonal vegetables and fruits, jerky, baked goods and more are some of the local specialties that draw guests from Rapid City and the surrounding area to the Black Hills Farmers’ Market. In peak growing season, the market operates several days per week.
Nashville | Annual
The Nashville Farmers’ Market has 19th-century roots and operates in the city’s downtown, next to the Tennessee State Museum and Bicentennial Mall State Park. Farmers, artisans, nonprofits and small businesses congregate at two covered open-air sheds, a container farm and a greenhouse microgreens farm. Other draws include a 24,000-square-foot garden center, a culinary incubation facility and a food hall with dozens of restaurants and shops.
Austin | Annual
The Hope Farmers’ Market in East Austin is among the most eclectic in the Lone Star State’s capital. The food producers are central to that, but the Sunday market is also the venue for HOPE FM Live, a showcase of local music and a monthly poster art program featuring Austin artists. There’s also an abundance of excellent produce, local meats and more.
Salt Lake City | June – October, with winter hours
The Downtown Farmers Market in Utah’s biggest city is a hub for fine local produce, grass-fed meats, fresh juices and dairy products, among other things. More than 100 ranches and farms take part in the market, all from within 250 miles of Salt Lake City. A separate art and craft market component is another attraction, with glasswork, leatherwork, sculpture and textiles on display.
Burlington | May – October
The Burlington Farmers Market is a producer market held all year in the historic downtown district in Vermont’s largest city. Prepared foods, fresh flowers, seasonal vegetables and fruits as well as pastured pork are available. Artisanal goat milk products and fresh baked goods also abound. The market offers valet parking for shoppers arriving on bikes.
Charlottesville | April – December
The Charlottesville City Market is a producer-only market with a lineup of more than 100 vendors, mostly from the surrounding areas of this eclectic college town. Prime picks include pastured meats, eggs, seasonal produce, baked goods and crafts. The market offers a COVID-safe online ordering, prepay and drive-through pickup service.
Tacoma | May – October, varies by location
The Tacoma Farmers’ Market is a powerhouse destination for seasonal vegetables and fruits, including greens, cabbages, Brussels sprouts and apples. The market’s three locations throughout the Tacoma area are great sources for local meats, Pacific Coast seafood, prepared foods and crafts.
Morgantown | May – November, with winter hours
Set in downtown Morgantown, which is also home to West Virginia University’s main campus, The Morgantown Farmer Market is a central source for fresh foods in a state dotted with small family farms and the Appalachian hills. Pasture-grazed beef, local pork and seasonal vegetables from small growers are just part of the lineup on market days.
Madison | Annual
The bevy of vegetables and fruits during the peak growing seasons is one reason shoppers flock to the Dane County Farmers’ Market. So are the artisanal cheeses, another fixture of Wisconsin’s agricultural economy. Pasture-raised bison, chicken, turkey and ostrich, not to mention some of Wisconsin’s trademark bratwurst and other sausages, are additional draws for meat lovers.
Casper | June – September, with winter hours
The Food for Thought Markets are destinations for fresh foods in this rural western state. Seasonal produce, meats from local ranches, jams, honeys, personal care products and dog treats are part of the draw. Summer markets feature food trucks with prepared foods and snacks. Monthly winter markets help shoppers stock up on preserved meats and vegetables as well as prepared foods throughout central Wyoming’s long winters.