Show Me the Produce

Once upon a time, I had a garden. It was a spectacular garden filled with vegetables of all kinds, plus rhubarb and strawberries and complete with pleasant neighbors hanging over the fence each weekend to see what was ripe. In all fairness, it was mostly my husband’s garden (I have a black thumb), but I really enjoyed it. Then we moved to the woods, where our tiny garden patch in a clearing near the house was visited nightly by less-friendly four-legged neighbors who didn’t wait for permission to “harvest” everything they could reach – which was pretty much everything.

That’s when we discovered an amazing thing: people with green thumbs and garden space created farmers markets for those of us with neither. I love those people.

There is no food anywhere that matches the fresh-from-the-garden, often organic, produce you find at farmers markets. This manna from heaven is worth any drive.

Tower Grove Farmers’ Market is one of the best in the state, and it’s huge. Fresh produce – organic and local – is just the beginning. You can lose yourself in their selection of meat, eggs, baked goods, artisan crafts and the like. But Tower Grove is more than a market – it’s like a big party, with activities for kids, live music, food trucks, beer and free yoga. Take the dog; pets are welcome. And be sure to try the Baetje Farms cheeses.

The historic year-round Soulard Farmers Market has been a St. Louis tradition for more than 200 years, and you can spend hours trying to take in all the yummy offerings. Think gourmet kettle corn. Produce, of course. Meat and cheeses. Spices. Flowers. The market is so enormous and so stimulating (great people-watching!), it’s a good thing it contains several eateries so you can recharge your batteries for more shopping.

For goods produced within miles of the market, you can’t beat the Greater Springfield Farmers’ Market. Located at the Battlefield Mall, this is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in southwest Missouri. It’s described as having a street fair atmosphere but with the highest quality offerings. In addition to the fantastic foodstuffs, don’t miss the handmade quilts and custom wood furniture.

Expect surprises at the City Market, the largest farmers’ market in the Kansas City region with more than 150 vendor stalls. Every weekend, rain or shine, all year round, shoppers stock up on the freshest fruits and vegetables, meats, herbs, sweet treats and crafts made by local artisans. Come for the shopping but stay for the special events, like music and dance performances, children’s crafts, book sales and cooking demonstrations.

For plants and produce, meat and eggs, baked goods and other treats, you can’t beat the Washington Farmers’ Market. But your inner shopper is going to love the variety and quality of handmade items: soaps, candles, metal art, jewelry, knitted items and more. You can snag yourself a Washington Farmers’ Market t-shirt or hoodie for the next time you visit.

You can be sure whatever you buy is local at Columbia Farmers Market, where everything is grown, raised or created by vendors located within 50 miles of the market. No resale is allowed. The market is known for its health foods, including gluten-free and dairy-free items, and shoppers love the live music and fun atmosphere.

This is just a sampling; you’ll find farmers markets in every corner of the state; just check the Missouri Farmers’ Market Directory. Discover your favorite and enjoy the freshness!

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