Part One of a three-part series about the joyful place known as your local farmers’ market.

VeggiesWhile growing up on the West Coast, family field trips to a farmers’ market always provided food for the soul, color for the eyes, and delectables for the dinner table. As a young girl, I recall weaving between stalls alongside my mother and siblings as we explored the wonders of wildflower bouquets, homemade cheese and honey, hand-strung beaded necklaces, and the freshest corn-on-the-cob I’ve ever tasted. Going to the farmers’ market was an experience. Sure, we came home with groceries. But we also returned home with a greater appreciation for local farmers, fresh foods, and the extraordinary variety of produce and handmade goods that are available thanks to the hard work and dedication of others.

So it’s no surprise that during an unexpected trip to my former home state awhile back, I eagerly joined my mother at the farmers’ market where she bought me my favorite sun hat. That hat has since felt the humidity of summer in the southern United States, and has shaded my face on several East Coast beaches – all the while reminding me of my former hometown and the goodness that abounds at the local farmers’ market. Want to find a farmers’ market in your neck of the woods?

As we all know, a little advance planning goes a long way and now is the perfect time to look into how you can shop locally and eat delectably (on the cheap!) this summer. Perhaps one, some, or all of the following sites will delight your inner local food shopping enthusiast:

Local Harvest (Special thanks to a friend who alerted me to this site!)

Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association

Washington State Farmers’ Market Association

Arizona Community Farmers’ Markets

Colorado Farmers’ Market Association

Michigan Farmers’ Markets

Illinois Farmers’ Markets

Missouri Farmers’ Markets Directory

Ohio Farmers’ Markets Directory

Pennsylvania Farmers’ Markets Directory

Virginia Farmers’ Markets

New Jersey Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Market Federation of New York

Federation of Massachusetts Farmers’ Markets

Maine Farmers’ Markets

or do an online search for “Farmers’ Market Association” to find your state’s local association and information about farmers’ markets in your neck of the woods.

Later this week, we’ll explore how to be an effective shopper at your local farmers’ market and how to keep those farmers’ market purchases fresh and ready for eating. Let the local shopping excursions begin!

* photo by Brian Nunnery

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