Farmers Market Finds

When summer comes around and Saturday mornings are free, I’m always itching to visit a farmers market. Homegrown produce, fresh cut flowers sold by the handful, samples of granola clusters and acoustic music while you meander through aisles of pop up tents is my type of heaven. Not only are they different every time you go, but they’re super family friendly and approachable no matter how much time you have to spend.

Much to my husband’s dismay, I’m guilty of not buying a bunch of things at farmers markets. I blame my inability to commit to buying tomatoes from one stand when I don’t know if the tomatoes five stands later will be better or cheaper. But I dig the vibe. These are my people! They care about their craft. They’re proud of their produce. And they’re super eager to talk to any passerby who wants tips on what’s ripe this week.

I’m not a huge fan of our hometown farmers market in Antioch. It’s only on Thursday nights and very few authentic purveyors set up shop. There are more booths selling WildTree olive oils and Tastefully Simple beer bread mixes than fresh produce. It’s hard to find the energy after work to visit the farmers market. If there were food trucks, I’d use it as an excuse to get dinner, but sadly there’s not. When I have a random day off work and I’m looking to get outside, the Antioch farmers market is a nice excuse.

My favorite farmers market is located in Woodstock, Illinois. It’s a quaint historical town square set up with vendors around the entire area, not to mention many boutique shops surrounding the square. It actually feels like you’re in Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls as you walk through town. Grab a freshly pressed glass of juice, a plate of pierogis and listen to the folk singers play in the gazebo. You can find this market every Tuesday and Saturday morning. It moves to indoor fairgrounds during winter.

Even when you travel on vacation, you’re never far from a farmers market. They’re worth visiting if you’re interested in living like a local. When we went to Mesa, Arizona this spring, we visited Gilbert, a small town just south of our hotel just for the farmers market. While we didn’t buy a whole bunch of fresh produce since we flew on an airplane a few hours later, it’s fun to see the local fare and explore new flavors. I picked up my beloved air plant from the farmers market there and hid it inside a coffee cup on the airplane. It may be the first flora I haven’t killed within six months of bringing it home.

I also scouted out the best farmers market in St. Louis, where we traveled later this summer. We went to the Tower Grove Farmers Market, a few minutes south of Central West End where we stayed. It’s located next to the Missouri Botanical Garden, so there were lots of interesting plants to see. We saw one of the biggest water lilies during our visit – and we didn’t even have to pay admission! Once again, we went mostly for lunch, ordering the most delicious vegan paella from The Croquetterie and a peach and Nutella crepe from a charming food truck called “Holy Crepe!” We bought some delightful blueberries and blackberries from an Amish man and I came very close to bringing home a hanging plant, had it not been for my husband who always asks, “where are you going to put that?”

One of my favorite lunchtime getaways is to Lake Geneva’s Farmers Market on Thursdays. A friendly redhead at the Sweet Memories tent mesmerizes customers as he swirls a small wooden stick over batter in a perfect circle. I always get their savory green crepe loaded with mushrooms, spinach and cheese. Order one and eat it in the Horticultural Hall garden, just inside the building. You won’t regret it!

Whether it’s for meat, produce or a meal, head to a farmers market this summer!

SIDENOTE: I spent considerable time trying to figure out the punctuation in the phrase “farmers market.” Turns out, there is no apostrophe s because it’s a descriptive phrase, not a possessive one. “Farmers” is an adjective, not a noun. In case you were wondering…

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