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An Online Guide to Farmers' Markets
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Image: Farmers' Market Warm autumn days bring to mind lazy excursions along winding country roads on my way to some secret destination. One of the joys of making day trips is finding roadside stands where local growers share that day's harvest with passersby. It's no surprise that one of the country's best secrets is finding its way into the big city in the form of farmers' markets. Restaurateurs, connoisseurs, and everyday folk are discovering the joy of getting the freshest produce directly from the source.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Service, a division of the USDA, there are now nearly 3,000 farmers markets across the United States. The AMS web site is packed with information about farmers' markets, including a directory and a clickable map that will help you locate one near you. This is also the place to start if you're interested in participating in a farmers' market as a vendor.

For those located on the left coast, the California Federation of Certified Farmers' Markets has a searchable database that includes locations, contact information and maps, as well as an overview of the commodities available at each market.

Both of these sites are great resources for tracking down registered markets. But how can you locate independent roadside stands? For the most part, driving around is your only option, although it is worthy to note that some of these sites will provide some guidance. For instance, Open-Air Market Net provides information about street markets, flea markets, and individual vendors in addition to their farmers market directory.


Quick Find:

Looking for a special place to take Mom this Mother's Day? Here are some resources!

Agricultural Market'g
CA Certified Markets
Open-Air Market Net
Organic Produce
Farmers' Market
Market Report Site
Global Gourmet
Road Trips

Go Without a List. The point of going to a farmers' market is to get the freshest possible goods, so plan on buying whatever looks best and plan your meals around your purchase.

Browse Before Buying. It's usually a good idea to peruse the entire market first, taking time to taste and compare the offerings of different vendors before making your purchases.

Bring Your Own Bag. You won't find shopping carts here, so bring your own bag or basket for toting the goods.

Go Home. Fresh produce won't last long in a hot car, so plan on bringing your purchases home before running any more errands.

Shop Early. You'll find the best selection early in the day.

Try Something New. Here's your opportunity to talk directly with growers, so try something new while you have the chance to ask about the best way to prepare it!

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