Farmer’s Market Escapes

Ever had a hobby you didn’t even realize you had?  I love farmer’s markets and on virtually every get away, I seek them out. It occurred to me recently that in the last couple of years, I’ve been to about 30 different farmer’s markets around the country.

I hadn’t even considered this an actual quest. They are adventures and a chance to explore a new place and feel a sense of community. Seeking out farmer’s markets is good for my spirit, because it keeps me in touch with people, a community, and the land in a way that’s easy to lose in such a tech-fueled time. It’s good for the soul.

I highly recommend it. I’ve been to communities that were entirely redeemed BY the farmer’s markets – some of them are SO remarkable!

Here is a partial list of locations where I’ve been to the farmer’s market in the last 24 months or so.

Most of them have something special, because they generally reflect the tone of the community and so often that is an exquisite thing. Below I share a few thoughts about some of the standouts.

Here we go!

1- Scottsdale, AZ – The setting alone for this long-time staple is worth the trip. Park the car and easily spend a half day or more in this compact region of Scottsdale. It’s warm, wonderful, and densely packed with items you’ll have a hard time living without.  There’s shopping and a church to tour across the street. Food is everywhere. Glad I arrived there hungry!

2- Gilbert, AZ – This is one of my favorites. You can feel the sense of community at this sparkly shiny farmer’s market. The variety is fun, parking is easy, and it’s in a pretty setting. A highlight here were the food trucks and jewelry vendors. I know some people only want to see produce and homemade food items at farmer’s markets. I’m not a purist that way. The purist in me wants the tone of the community in locally-produced items – whatever they are. This runs the gamut in a good way in my book.

3- Peoria, IL – The river setting adds a great vibe to the Peoria Riverfront farmer’s market.  There’s a cafe-type seating area near live music, breakfasts made on the spot, a wide array of produce and other innovative food and craft products. There’s even a grassy knoll with ample shade where you can enjoy that soft pretzel I know you’ll want to try, because everyone seems to – us included! Too much variety to list at this market. Add to that, a museum across the street and this is another make a day of it destination.

4- Bloomington, IL – The organizer of this farmer’s market is wonderful and takes her commitment to her vendors and community very seriously! She tries out her products and wants to make sure what she offers patrons is what she’d feel good about, too. I have benefitted! It shows in the whole experience of more than two dozen vendors. Variety mixed with music, in a historic setting, with a strong community vibe – the stuff great farmers markets are made of, of course.

5- Wheaton, IL – This long-time French Market is quaint, cool, and a spectacular mix of different items. This is one of the farmer’s markets with the most variety of all I’ve been to over the years. Check out the baked goods from the Abbey displayed there in a central location under the canopies of this Saturday morning extravaganza. That booth alone is worth the trip as they are the sweetest human beings and what they make offers such dainty perfection.

6- Evanston, IL – What a great place to land on a Saturday morning. Evanston is spectacular with all there is to do there anyway. I have enjoyed this farmer’s market having been there a handful of times – several were stop-by’s shortly before heading into the movie theater across the street for MET Opera performances. Too much fun – some of the best Saturdays of my life.

7- Carmel, IN – In the community with more than 100 roundabouts (as in a United States record breaker) and as an indicator of the thoughtfully planned community this is, Carmel also sports a beautifully planned farmer’s market. The entire layout is made up of booths surrounding a central plaza with a pristinely-kept casual central amphitheater where that morning a one-man-band added to our enjoyment with a fun rendition of the song American Pie. The central Indiana corn backdrop is everywhere and the feeling was especially present at the market itself in that you could easily get all of the corn you wanted right off the truck to toss on your grill that evening. No doubt, it was some of the best tasting sweet corn ever.

8- Sante Fe, NM – If this isn’t my favorite farmer’s market, it’s close!  As I think about it…this might well be my favorite. This is a huge display of all kinds of food, artistry, ingenuity, and innovation…  Music is fun and you are right in the mix with the musicians the way it was handled when I was there. There’s no distance and it adds a lovely intimacy to the experience. This farmer’s market is spread out near a picturesque rail stop on two sides of a large Morton-style building. Booths are everywhere inside and out.  THEN, across the street is an Artisan market which is about perfect in a community such as Santa Fe, NM which has reverence for its artists. I discovered horse hair pottery there – a reminder of the wild mustangs galloping only a few miles away. I took some of that pottery home for the memory. Patrons are the winner in this experience. It’s so fun, I’d go back JUST for this farmer’s/artisans market alone which says a lot, because there are oodles of extraordinary experiences to be had in and around Santa Fe…countless, in fact.

9- Indianapolis-Broad Ripple, IN – Intimate and strong neighborhood vibe here. Glad I went! Broad Ripple itself is legendary and I knew the farmer’s market would be great. It’s just an extension of what the area is already about – community and connection.

Not done yet!  More in the next post…