Nothing says summer in New England quite like the arrival of seasonal farmers' markets. Whether you crave tender fiddlehead ferns, tangy locally made cheeses, or heirloom tomatoes plucked ripe from the vine, you're certain to enjoy the variety of offerings at the many summer markets now open throughout the region.
Surrounded by more than 500 acres of forest and the rural landscape at the Hale Homestead, the Coventry Regional Farmers' Market draws 100,000 visitors a year. It's easy to see why. Now in its 11th season, Connecticut's largest and most diverse farmers' market is like an old-fashioned country fair. In addition to specializing in organic, heirloom, ethnic, and gourmet varieties of fruits and vegetables from small local farms, the market hosts cooking demonstrations, sustainable-living programs, children's activities, musical guests, and the work created by local artisans. Farmers, bakers, and chefs sell grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, milk, yogurt, smoked bacon, rustic breads, farmstead cheeses, fresh-baked pies, European pastries, salsa, pesto, jars of preserves and pickles, fresh herbs, cut flowers, chocolate fudge, honey, and maple syrup. Check out the offerings at Green Valley Farm Berkshire Pork, Highland Thistle Farm, Sixpence Pie Co., Sleepy Moon Soaps, Wayne's Organic Garden, Whole Harmony Teas, and more than 50 other vendors. Leashed, well-mannered dogs are welcome in this pet-friendly market. Coventry Regional Farmers' Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead, 2299 South St., Sundays 11 a.m.-2 p.m., June through October, www.coventryfarmersmarket.com.
With its easy access to fresh seafood and locally harvested farm products, Portland's restaurant scene has earned a reputation as a food-lover's destination. Those who also enjoy cooking and dining at home flock to Deering Oaks Park every weekend, spring through fall, for an extensive array of farm fresh products showcasing the best offerings from more than 35 farms. Located in a swath of greenery away from downtown's busy streets, the atmosphere is more country than urban. Bring your own shopping bags to fill with food and farm products grown and produced in Maine. Peruse rows of market stalls, including that of Balfour Farm (organic dairy products and cheeses), Blue Hill Berry Co. (organic blueberries), Green Spark Farm (organic vegetables), Sebago Lake Ranch (grass fed beef), and Sumner Valley Farm (chicken, pork, eggs). You're also apt to discover vendors selling fruit, herbs, honey, maple syrup, jams and jellies, cut flowers, lamb, goat meat, turkey, bacon, sausage, pickles, and fermented foods, such as tempeh, kim chi, and sauerkraut. Gardeners can pick up herb plants, vegetable seedlings, perennials, and hanging baskets. Portland Farmers' Market, Deering Oaks Park, Saturdays, late April to late November, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. www.portlandmainefarmersmarket.org.
You may not associate the sandy shores of the Outer Cape with verdant farmlands, but a visit to the Wellfleet Farmers' Market should make you reevaluate your assumptions. Now in its fourth year, the market features local produce and farm products such as pork, eggs, and chicken, from places including H&H Farm (Wellfleet), Nestlewood Farm (Truro), Cape Cod Organic Farm (Barnstable), Halcyon Farm (Brewster), Checkerberry Farm (Orleans), and others. Located in the center of town, on the green behind Preservation Hall, the Wednesday morning market is where locals and visitors go to listen to live music, enjoy coffee and baked goods, and stock up on items for the pantry, including spice rubs, jams and jellies, salsas, preserves, Wellfleet sea salt, and honey, as well as flowers and herbs. Wellfleet Farmers' Market, 335 Main St. (behind Preservation Hall), Wednesdays 8 a.m.-noon, May 14 to Oct. 15. www.wellfleetfarmersmarket.com
On the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, the largest city in Vermont is home to the Burlington Summer Farmers' Market, one of the oldest and largest in the state. Located in the city's historic downtown, the market has a street party vibe, with more than 80 vendors in the mix with musicians and performers, face painting for kids, and prepared foods to snack on while you shop, including grilled sausages, burgers, barbecue, doughnuts, and cupcakes. Small-scale farms showcase food produced in Vermont's lush pastures, including all manner of seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats (cured, smoked, fresh), eggs, and cheeses made from a variety of milks. You'll also find a plethora of specialty products to fill your shopping bags, including wine, mead, and distilled liquors, maple syrup, honey, granola, spiced nuts, cider, and more. Pet treats can be purchased for your pooch, who is welcome to attend on a leash. Local artists and craftspeople exhibit jury-selected work ranging from traditional to contemporary, including pottery, metalwork, beeswax candles, apparel, glass, photography, jewelry, and soaps and scents to keep you smelling clean. Burlington Summer Farmers' Market, City Hall Park (corner of College and St. Paul Street), Saturdays 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. May 10 to Oct. 25, www.burlingtonfarmersmarket.org.
The abundance of products grown and raised in Rhode Island farms is on display at the Providence/Hope Street Farmers' Market. Located in Lippitt Park, a short drive off Route 1 between Pawtucket and Providence, the market is open rain or shine on Wednesday and Saturdays, and features fresh fruits and vegetables, local cheeses, seafood, meats, bread, coffee, and specialty treats. (More vendors participate on the weekend.) Stop by and chat with farmers from Arcadian Fields Organic Farm (salad greens, cooking greens, herbs, heirloom tomatoes), Barden Family Orchard (corn, summer squash, berries, plums, peaches), Robin Hollow Farm (flowers, plants, herbs), Pat's Pastured (pasture raised and grass-fed beef, pork, turkey, chicken, lamb), Matunuck Oyster Farm (oysters, clams, mussels), and more. Specialty items include olive oils and vinegars, fresh-baked breads and muffins, locally bottled sodas and seltzers, fresh scallops and seafood, artisan cheeses, pies and cupcakes, jams and jellies, soups, and pickles. Poor Boy Sharpening will add an edge to your knives, scissors, and gardening tools while you shop. Providence/Hope Street Farmers' Market, Lippitt Park, 1059 Hope St., Wednesdays 3-6 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 17 to Oct. 25, www.farmfresh.org/food/farmersmarkets_details.php?market=11
Located next to the State House in New Hampshire's capital, the Concord Farmers' Market is one of the oldest in the state. Local growers and producers are featured among the more than 40 vendors, including Kearsarge Gore Farm (organic vegetables, herbs, and cut and dried flowers), Meadowview Farm (lamb, beef, eggs, chicken, blueberries, peaches, and honey), and Heart Song Farm (goat cheese and milk, goat meat, and eggs), with more unusual offerings provided by Bonnie Brae Farms (venison, velvet antler, hides), Micro Mama's (fermented vegetables), and Jane's Famous Composting Worms (composting worms, worm castings, potted herbs and plants). In addition to farm-raised goods, visitors can purchase a variety of goods to fill their kitchen shelves, including wine, beer, baked beans, hot sauces, pastries and gluten-free baked items, flavored popcorn, chutney, ravioli and pasta, fish and seafood, granola, and more. Nonedible offerings include flowers, plants, soap and body products, and crafts. Concord Farmers' Market, Capitol Street, Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.-noon, May 9 to Oct. 25, www.concordfarmersmarket.org
Necee Regis can be reached at email@example.com.