These days, farmers' markets offer more than just nature's finest and freshest produce. These ten markets have devoted local fans-from near and far-making them a destination in their own right.
1. Baltimore, Maryland
This producers-only market is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. In 2009, the market began selling beauty products, arts and crafts, and handmade furnishings, helping to draw more than 8,000 visitors on especially nice Sundays. Visit the gourmet pickle stand In A Pickle or wash down a vegan dessert from Dirty Carrots with classic glass-bottled milk from South Mountain Creamery.
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2. Brattleboro, Vermont
When it started in 2006, the Brattleboro Winter Farmers' Market gave farmers a place to sell their still-plentiful produce when traditional markets had closed for the winter. In addition to making fresh, local food affordable to those in the community, the Saturday market has also become a destination for foodies from Massachusetts who love its proximity to I-91.
3. Charleston, South Carolina
Operating since 1989, the market at Marion Square is a hit with locals, who cite the bounty of non-food treats at this market, including Scarlet Poppy jewelry, and the magnolia cream products from Charleston Soap Chef. If you're in the market for furniture, check out Capers Cauthen's Landrum Tables made of reclaimed local wood. Have a bite at Charleston Crepe Company, one of the most popular-and longest-running-food vendors, or try Roots Ice Cream, which scoops of locally-sourced flavors like Sweet Tea and Honeysuckle.
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4. Des Moines, Iowa
Since it began in 1976, the Des Moines market has grown from 15 vendors to more than 200, and now averages 18,000 visitors each Saturday. In addition to Iowa-grown, chemical-free produce and local meats and cheeses, there are six venues for arts, crafts and entertainment, plus a weekly kids' activity to enchant the younger attendees.
5. Portland, Oregon
In the span of 21 years, Portland Farmers Markets, which started with 13 vendors in a parking lot, has become a no-small-potatoes empire. The flagship market, at Portland State University, draws nearly 150 vendors including foragers, farmers, fishermen, bakers, cheesemongers, and wine makers. Shoppers also enjoy music performances, chef demonstrations, and kids' cooking classes. All seven Portland Farmers Markets makes fresh, local foods available to lower income residents.
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6. Rowayton, Connecticut
A welcome stop along the I-95 corridor, Rowayton's historic Pinkney Park hosts on average 20 vendors, and offers views of the Long Island Sound and the Five-Mile River. Although it's a young market (this summer will be the fourth year), it is beloved in the community, with regulars shopping every week and a number of local vendors, too, including Josie's Empanadas and Three Dog Cookie Co.'s treats for four-legged friends. Don't miss the organic hand-blended family recipes at Mamacat's Q.Tea, including a unique chamomile blend.
7. Sag Harbor, New York
Local residents Ana Nieto and Ivo Tomasini created the Sag Harbor's Fair Foods Winter Farmers' Market just two years ago with a goal of encouraging the local economy in the "off-season." It's one-stop shopping for colorful winter produce (cabbages, beets, carrots, kale, fennel, squash), free-range and hormone-free animal products like eggs and cheeses and baked goods, in addition to local indulgences like Fat Ass Fudge and Wölffer Estate Vineyard wines.
8. Chicago, Illinois
Nestled in Lincoln Park, adjacent to the lakefront, the 12-year-old Green City Market operates year-round (outdoors from May through November). It is believed to be the only market in the country that requires third-party certifications of all vendors, such as Certified Naturally Grown, USDA Certified Organic, or Animal Welfare Approved. Try the amazing pickled brussels sprouts from Grass Is Greener and grab Crumb's Caraway Rye or Semolina Boule breads-made from organic flours-before they sell out.
Plus: This April, we're heading to Austin, Texas, for the Country Living Fair! Get your tickets here »
9. Aspen, Colorado
Discover Colorado-made, -grown, or -produced foods and goods from 30 vendors and 70 artisans. The non-profit, 12-year-old market has a juried application process, making it highly selective. Kids can learn about sustainable food and meat at the education booth. Best of all, pick up some prepared foods and grab a seat in the adjacent park to savor the picture-perfect view at Ajax Mountain.
10. West Tisbury, Massachusetts
Centrally located outside the Grange Hall in town center, the West Tisbury Farmers Market is unique among its peers as the market rules require that all of the approximately 40 vendors grow or make their products on Martha's Vineyard. About two-thirds of the goods are farm products, and the remaining vendors offer non-consumables, like Seastone Papers' handmade jewelry.
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