Farmers markets have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to the rise of sustainability movements and a growing love for organic and farm-to-table produce. Not so well known is the fact that some have been running for a long time – way before they were deemed trendy and a more refreshing alternative to a regular grocery shopping experience. So, whether you’re looking for fresh food – meats, vegetables, cheese, and bakes – and homemade crafts, or just want to get a sense of the local community, here are five of the best farmers markets that will make your day.
1. Borough Market, London
Dating back a thousand years, and situated in Southwark Street, this is London‘s oldest wholesale as well as retail, food and drink market for British and international produce. Most of the stallholders are themselves producers – farmers, fishermen, bakers and more. Expect cured meats, cheese, artisanal chocolates and cakes, handmade condiments, fresh seafood and traditional British specialties. As you wander through, the farmers will be more than happy to share their expert knowledge with you. Alternatively, take a licensed food tour of the market, with options such as tastings or tours with a historical or family-friendly focus. There’s also a community of chefs, food writers, campaigners and teachers, who do cooking demonstrations at the market and organise educational programmes. Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm (6pm on Fridays), are full produce days when all the stalls and shops are open. It’s not usually open on Sunday, but with Christmas coming, Borough Market will be open daily from December 4 till Christmas Eve.
2. Collingwood Children’s Farm/Melbourne Farmers Market
Launched in 2002, Melbourne‘s first farmers market, which brings produce from Victorian farms to the community, remains a hot favourite. Collingwood Children’s Farm comes under the Melbourne Farmers Markets umbrella and its location gives shoppers a taste of country life, despite being in the inner city of bustling Melbourne. Around 70 stallholders sell fruits, vegetables, eggs, bread, jams, pasta, flowers, and lots more. The market is accredited by the Victorian Farmers’ Market Association so you there are no wholesalers or big businesses involved. The stallholders are the legit growers and makers of the products sold and all profits go to regional communities. You have to pay an entry fee of A$2 per adult (free for children) but you can stay all day and mingle with the farm animals too. Do note that this is a plastic bag-free market, so bring your own bags. Its hours are 9.15am to 4.45pm daily.
3. La Boqueria Market, Barcelona
The first thing you’ll see when you reach this historic market – which dates all the way back to the 1200s and is now Barcelona’s most visited and biggest food market – is its impressive iron entrance that leads to a vibrant, fully functioning world of food of all varieties and nationalities that throngs with locals and tourists. Fruits, freshly-squeezed juices (a welcome refreshment during the warmer months), vegetables, meats, cheeses, olives and seafood, as well as foods from all over the world, are just some of the items you’ll find in the maze of stalls. You can also stop to eat and drink at any one or more of the tapas bars that dot the market. Of course, the floors are slippery and the stallholders can get loud, but you’ll realise that this simply adds to the charming experience. It’s open from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8.30pm.
4. Union Square Greenmarket, New York
What began as a market with just a handful of farmers in 1976 has become one of the city’s biggest attractions, with over 140 farmers and bakers. The world-famous market attracts 60,000 shoppers a day, who chat with the farmers and watch cooking demonstrations by some of the city’s hottest chefs. Depending on when you visit, there are seasonal events throughout the year too, such as book signings from May to November, a Beer & Spirits of New York pop-up from March to December, and market tours and interactive displays from Spring to Fall. And, of course, there’s the top-notch produce as well – fresh, mostly organic fruits and vegetables, award-winning cheeses, artisan breads and bakes, heritage meats, jams, flowers, wine and maple syrup, just to name a few. Do go early as the farmers close up once their produce is sold out. It’s opened four days weekly, 8pm to 6pm.
5. Marché Bastille, Paris
One of the biggest and most vibrant open-air street markets in Paris, the area comes alive on Thursdays, 7am to 2.30pm, and Sundays, 7am to 3pm, thanks to the 150-plus brightly-coloured stalls, vendors calling out their specials for the day, and shoppers excitedly pushing their trolleys all around the market. It’s an especially important stop for cheese fans because of the impressive range of local cheeses sold here, such as goat’s cheese, blue cheeses, and soft cheeses like camembert. There are, of course, other food items as well, like freshly made crepes, fruits and vegetables, meats, olives, fish, wonderful oysters and seasonal specialities such as truffles. You’ll also be able to browse through other items such as jewellery and bags. An arts and crafts market –Marché de la création Bastille – takes over the site on Saturdays, giving shoppers a chance to pick up items such as paintings and hand-crafted items that are sure to give your home a new lease of life or will make great souvenirs from your trip.
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This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine