Exceptional Farmer’s Markets: More than Produce

Some of the most unique experiences you can encounter when traveling involves local people and local foods, so what better way to throw yourself into a city than to visit their weekly farmers market? This list of unique and exceptional farmers' markets will take you from one coast to another, stopping for great food, fun, and usually an educational moment or two. These markets strive to do more than just sell fresh food, with local business productivity and community social interaction high on their list of importance. Visiting any of these locations will fulfill your eco-tourism desires, as well as your stomach!

Crescent City Farmers Market - New Orleans, Louisiana

This year-round economic enterprise has grown into a local and tourist favorite in New Orleans, known as one of the most unique farmer's markets in the nation. The local culture and flavor are seen everywhere you look in this market, and it’s doing a lot more for the community than just providing a fun festival-like atmosphere. Located downtown every Saturday morning, as well as in various popular locations on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the Crescent City Farmers Market strives to provide ecologically sound economic development locally and has helped more than 75 local businesses get their start. Local chefs love using fresh seafood from this market in their 5-star restaurants just as much as local people love using it in daily cooking. The area's best growers, producers, and fishers come together to promote good health and social interaction in the community, as well as to sell some of their finest foods. At Crescent City, you will find local favorites like hothouse cucumbers, bread and butter pickles, creole tomatoes, okra, and tangelos, as well as one of the best selections of fresh seafood including fresh catfish, soft-shelled crab, alligator, and turtle (after all, you are on the bayou!). Enjoy a break from the smoldering Louisiana heat with a fresh fruit popsicle from Amanda's, watch a live cooking demo, or even get your knife sharpened while taking in the unique New Orleans setting. This market also provides an occasional moonlight market, hosting local beers and wines in addition to their normal fares.

Brookside Farmers Market - Kansas City, Missouri

One of the most highly growing eco-trends in today’s culinary world is eating organic, and Brookside Farmers Market was specifically designed to allow its customers to do just that! Every piece of products sold in this market is all USDA organic certified and found locally, within 100 miles of Kansas City. All the fresh meat, eggs, and cheeses are also inspected before they're allowed into the market to ensure that no GMOs or antibiotics were used in the growth process and also that all animal products were pasteurized. Brookside offers fresh vegetables, herbs, local wildflowers, meat, eggs, homemade body products, loaves of bread, baked goods, and even homemade ice cream! Keeping up with the motto of being ‘organic, sustainable, and cruelty-free’, there are also many vegan and gluten-free options available. When you’ve had your fill of the freshest foods, you can enjoy live music, children's activities, educational exhibits, and live chef demos. Located near the heart of Kansas City and open seasonal Saturdays 8 am to 1 pm, this farmers market is a unique display of agriculture and culture together that you won’t want to miss!

Soda City Farmers Market - Columbia, South Carolina

Welcome to historic Soda City in Columbia, South Carolina, where you will find one of the best examples of local business support in a farmers market in the United States. This open-air street fair type market hosts several varieties of fresh produce, dairy, eggs, cheeses, meats, and seafood. Several local artists and artisans practice their craft in the street for you to witness or purchase as you stroll along the historic roadway jam-packed with fan-favorite food trucks. Try out the waffle food truck or fresh fruit juice truck for breakfast, or maybe go for one of the hottest food trends today - the cronut! Local business the Spotted Salamander sells maple bacon cronuts like hotcakes, located right next to the Livingston Farms Tent, which is known for its unbeatable deals on fresh vegetables such as a $10 box to fill with whatever and how much ever you desire! Check out the countless examples of local talent and successful local business as you walk around the Soda City Farmers Market, and don’t be afraid to bring your dog (they even have dog treat stands in the market)!

Santa Fe Farmers Market - Santa Fe, New Mexico

Recognized as one of the country’s largest and most popular year-round farmers markets, the Santa Fe Farmers Market in New Mexico is a highly diverse market with a little bit of something for everybody. Showcasing their authentic southwestern flavor, the Santa Fe market hosts over 150 vendors from 15 surrounding counties. Be prepared for a unique mix of local delicacies such as fresh jujubes, chilies, hot tamales, desert fungi, grass-fed yak and bison, sweet corn, chili Amarillo, buffalo sausage, and the area's local favorite, cactus honey. If the season is right, you will be able to visit the on-site nursery that supports this homage to a local agriculture and culture mecca year-round. Enjoy the diverse setting as you buy your local goodies, with various artists and chefs showing off their talent all around the area.

Union Square Greenmarket - Manhattan, New York

Located in one of New York’s great public spaces, Union Square, this greenmarket is sure to fulfill all your produce desires and then some. Nearly 60,000 shoppers visit this market daily, which is open year-round on Mondays, from 8 am to 6 pm. What began in 1976 with a few local farmers has turned into a large local enterprise involving over 140 regional farmers, fishermen, and bakers. There are hundreds of varieties of goodies found in this market, including just-picked fresh fruits and vegetables, heritage meats, artisan bread, award-winning cheeses, wines, jams, pickles, cut flowers and plants, ciders, and even seasonal fresh maple syrup. Enjoy live cooking demos from world-renowned New York chefs as you sample their fresh creations, or maybe just take in the local New York electric vibe as you stroll around the square. The vendors are more than happy to teach guests about seasonality, marketability, or agriculture in general, making this market an educational experience as well. They even accept food stamps and WIC, ensuring every local gets the chance to get healthy, fresh food daily.

Portland Farmers Market - Portland, Oregon

Stepping out as a fan favorite in this ultimately organic scene in Oregon, the Portland Farmers Market located at Portland State University is a year-round festival of fresh food! Open every Saturday, with sister locations throughout Portland every single day, this market strives for providing daily fresh food for the people of Portland. Over 140 of the region’s best farmers have been gathering here since 1992, attracting in the upwards of 20,000 guests every Saturday during the summer. The picturesque Oregon backdrop mixes with the vibe of the friendly locals giving cooking classes, chef demos, food education courses, and live music performances, giving this market an ambiance like no other. Selling everything from french chestnuts to locally raised meats such as bison, yak, and wild boar, this market has it all! It also boasts in-season raspberries, fresh Asian greens, organic crepes, and homemade crafts from the area. Be sure to bring your camera and plenty of bags for all the delicious delicacies located here, in the heart of Portland.

Santa Monica Farmers Market - Santa Monica, California

One of California’s premier farmer's markets is located in downtown Santa Monica, on Main Street. Boasting over 900,000 annual shoppers, this impressively large farmers market hosts some of California’s best chefs for demos, as well as daily shopping for their restaurants. Known as the largest and most diverse market in California, this location offers year-round Sunday markets on Main Street, as well as Wednesday markets and Saturday organic markets. The 9,000 weekly guests can enjoy a multitude of events in this festival-like atmosphere, including children's storytelling and face painting, arts and crafts for all ages, and cooking and gardening demos for the adults. Be prepared to be overwhelmed with the variety of foods and body products sold here, a small sample of what you’ll see will include: fresh honey, beeswax, eucalyptus harvest, daisies, oysters and mussels, red seaweed, pecans, herbs, pesto, soaps and creams, and every imaginable vegetable and fresh fruit in the area.