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Davis Farmers Market ranked among nation's best

11:54 AM, May 8, 2012   |    comments
  • Davis Farmers Market - Ranked among America's top 5 by USA Today.
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Farmers markets aren't just about veggies anymore. Some have become weekly festivals celebrating local food, says Gretchen Mais of the American Farmland Trust.

Markets help visitors experience a community like a local. "It's a place for conversation and music and to taste the actual flavor of the region," she says. "You may not be buying sweet chard on your vacation to bring back to your hotel, but a lot of times you can buy a salad from the market to have right there." She shares some standout sites with Larry Bleiberg for USA Today.

Davis (Calif.) Farmers Market

On Wednesday nights the Davis social calendar revolves around "Picnic in the Park." The market concert series includes food vendors, beer and wine sales, rock climbing, and kids activities. "On this long green lawn, people are throwing Frisbees and children are running around. A very social atmosphere," Mais says. Shoppers find the bounty of California, with berries, figs, olive oil, chestnuts, asparagus and dozens of other offerings. 530-756-1695; davisfarmersmarket.org

Historic Lewes (Del.) Farmers Market

This beach town's natural resources aren't limited to sand and surf. Its six-year-old producers-only market offers not only fruits and vegetables, but eggs, flowers, fish, baked goods and herbs. Profits are reinvested in the community. "They send farmers to sustainable agriculture conferences. They have a really big view of how to make a difference," Mais says. Its 2012 season begins May 26. 302-644-1436; historiclewesfarmersmarket.org

Santa Fe (N.M.) Farmers Market

The flavor of the Southwest is found at this market. "They make sure the food is coming from a very short distance," Mais says. "There are so many varieties of pepper and beans that you totally miss when you're not here. These heritage varieties really bring the cuisine to life." 505-983-4098; santafefarmersmarket.com

Boulder (Colo.) Farmers' Market

Families, college students, runners and cyclists all mix at this popular market near Boulder Creek. Along with familiar produce, vendors feature more exotic offerings like golden beets, white eggplant and purple beans. There are also baked goods and crafts. Many visitors browse the market and then pick up food from a vendor and snack in nearby Central Park. 303-910-2236; boulderfarmers.org

King George (Va.) Farmers Market

This tiny rural market about 70 miles south of Washington, D.C., has changed the dynamic of the local community, giving neighbors a place to socialize. But visitors are welcome too. "It's a super friendly place," says Mais. Along with vegetables, fruit, and jams, you can find goat cheese and Chesapeake Bay seafood. thefarmersmarket.co

Sustainable Food Center Downtown Farmers' Market

Austin

While some farmers markets have gone upscale, Austin has reached out to neighborhoods too, Mais says. "They want to make sure everyone has access to farm-fresh food, bringing the farmers-market love to lots of areas." The market is the state's largest growers-only gathering with more than 110 vendors. Since it's Austin, you can expect live music and colorful crowds. sfcfarmersmarket.org

Rockford (Mich.) Farm Market

This rural market is run by the city, located about 15 miles north of Grand Rapids. "It has a real community feel," Mais says. "It's a growers-only market and the focus is really on farm products." The market operates June through October, and also features pastries, bread and even jerky made with exotic meats like deer, elk and buffalo. rockford.mi.us/farmMarket.html

Coventry (Conn.) Regional Farmers' Market

This classic New England market feels a bit like a county fair, with both produce and a petting zoo. It's located on the Nathan Hale homestead, a Connecticut state park named for the Revolutionary War patriot executed by the British for espionage. During its June through October run, it attracts 75,000 visitors. coventryfarmersmarket.com

Snellville (Ga.) Farmers' Market

Located in front of a small-town city hall on the outskirts of Atlanta, this summer market tries to source its produce from within a 100-mile radius. It also features bands and other performers. "You get a sense of a gathering place. People are great about sharing their knowledge about food and recipes. It's very participatory," Mais says. snellvillefarmersmarket.com

Bloomington (Ind.) Community Farmers' Market

This city-run market offers familiar produce and a range of other products from bedding plants to medicinal salves. Special events might include a lemonade contest or a plant swamp. A dedicated busker area means there's no shortage of entertainment. 812-349-3738; bloomington.in.gov/farmersmarket

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