Though every farmers’ market is unique, they all share a few things in common: they’re community gathering places where fresh food takes center stage. But these East Coast markets have something else in common, too. Each is a past winner of the America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market contest hosted by the American Farmland Trust. Here are our three picks and what makes them community favorites:
Rochester Public Market, Rochester, NY
This urban market, first-place winner in the “large” category of America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market 2010, welcomes an ethnically diverse crowd of up to 2.5 million visitors a year. The historic market, which features fourth- and fifth-generation vendors, has played a major role in the community since 1905 and is open 52 weeks a year. Around 300 vendors – well over half of them farmers – sell produce, fish, meats, baked goods and more. Due to Western New York’s mild climate, you’ll find a nice assortment of fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs amid the prepared foods and dairy products. Local favorites include Juan and Maria’s empanadas, Small World granola, Flour City coffee, “the pepper lady” and the whoopie pies at the Amish bakery.
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays 6 a.m.-1 p.m.; Saturdays 5 a.m.-3 p.m., year-round. Check the website for additional days and hours and special events.
Where: 280 North Union Street, about three blocks north of East Main street in northeast Rochester, NY.
Historic Lewes Farmers Market, Lewes, DE
You may not expect to find an award-winning farmers’ market in a town of fewer than 3,000 people. But the Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market defied any low small-town expectations by taking first place in the “medium” category of American’s Favorite Farmers ‘Market 2011. Nestled inside an historical complex in the heart of Lewes, the market boasts dozens of eclectic vendors offering everything from exotic mushrooms to soft-shell crabs alongside fresh fruit, veggies and herbs. The producer-only market also has a “gleaning” program which collects and organizes the extra produce at the end of each market to donate to an area soup kitchen. Local favorites include Hattie’s Garden, Nice Farms Creamery, and Kogler’s Old World Breads (get there early to beat the lines.)
When: Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon, late May through late September (check website for exact dates)
Where: Lewes Historical Society Complex, 110 Shipcarpenter Street, Lewes, DE.
Falls Church Farmers Market, Falls Creek, VA
Food prices are notoriously high in the D.C. area, but locals appreciate the comparatively cheap produce and variety that has come to define the community market in this city of about 12,000. The market, which nabbed first place in the “medium” category of America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market, offers over 40 vendors during peak months and is open every Saturday year-round. Local favorites include Chris’ Farms empanadas (try the smoked salmon) and bluefish dip (get there early; it’ll sell out fast), soaps from Harmony Creek, apples and peaches from Black Rock Orchard, and Howie’s Honey.
When: Saturdays April through December 8 a.m.-noon; January through March, 9 a.m.-noon.
Where: City Hall Parking Lot, 300 Park Avenue, Falls Church, VA.