America’s Top 20 Farmers’ Markets: 2011

See if your local farmers’ market is one of the nation’s best!

By Emily Main

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Top 20 Farmers Markets in the USIt’s been a good summer for local farmers’ markets. Figures released from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in early August revealed that the number of markets in the United States has grown 17 percent, with some states seeing up to 46 percent more farmers’ markets this year than last. Shortly thereafter, the Union of Concerned Scientists (a nonprofit group comprised of former MIT researchers) released a report showing that investment in local farmers’ market initiatives could create more than 13,000 jobs in a 5-year period.

And what’s not to love about them? Friendly farmers, fresh food, a chance to invest in your local food economy. The nonprofit agricultural conservation group American Farmland Trust (the people behind those catchy "No Farms, No Food" bumper stickers you see) has been showing love to America’s farmers’ markets for years now, and the group just released the results of its third annual “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” contest. The organization solicits market nominations and votes from the public, and this year, 90,000 people voted for their favorites. The results are grouped into four categories, based on size. And the top five winners in each category are…

Boutique Markets (15 or fewer vendors):
North Port Farmers & Craft Market, North Port, FL
Manistique Farmers Market, Manistique, MI
Punta Gorda History Park Farmers Market, Punta Gorda, FL
Putnam Farmers Market, Hurricane, WV
Old Beach Farmers Market, Virginia Beach, VA

Small Markets (16 to 30 vendors):
City of Rockford Farmers Market, Rockford, MI
Venice Farmers Market, Venice, FL
Lakeside Farmers Market, Henrico/Richmond, VA
Lyme Farmers Market, Lyme, CT
McKinney Farmers Market-Chestnut Square, McKinney, TX

Medium Markets (31 to 55 vendors):
Historic Lewes Farmers Market, Lewes, DE
Saratoga Farmers Market, Saratoga Springs, NY
Falls Church Farmers Market, Falls Church, VA
St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers Market, Panama City, FL
Williamsburg Farmers Market, Williamsburg, VA

Large Markets (56 or more vendors):
Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, Las Cruces, NM
New Braunfels Farm to Market, New Braunfels, TX
Snellville Farmers Market, Snellville, GA
Pepper Place Saturday Market, Birmingham, AL
Fayetteville Farmers Market, Fayetteville, AR

For the complete list of farmers’ markets in each category, visit www.farmland.org. You can also see which are the most popular markets in your state.

As you visit your favorite local farmers’ market this weekend, make sure you know how to navigate the stalls to look for local, organic food of the highest quality. For tips and suggestions, see:

How to Find True Organic Food at the Farmer's Market

Six Ways to Make the Most of Your Local Farmer’s Market

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