Spring is here and that means farmers’ market season is moving into gear! While there are winter markets around, spring is when many of markets open, selling everything from garden plants to asparagus to garlic scapes. Let’s explore what you might find at the spring farmers’ market.
While summer is peak farmers’ market and local farm stand season, don’t forget about spring produce! Spring is all about the greens, the cool weather crops like radishes and beets, and the vegetables which are at their best when they poke out of the ground, such as ferns and rhubarb.
Here in New England, spring farm season begins at the beginning of May and brings us through the end of June, with each week producing a new crop of fresh produce. Depending on your climate, the spring season could be earlier or later (or in my autumn *waves to southern hemisphere readers*). To help you figure out what is in season in your area, it can be helpful to consult a local guide to produce. I found a guide to American produce, which is very helpful, and I’m sure there are others for other countries of the world.
What might you find at the spring farmers’ market?
Are you looking to set up your home vegetable garden? Need some potted herbs? Or want a few flowers to plant in your garden beds?
Most local farms also sell plants in the spring. You may find herbs throughout the year, but now is the time to snap up some heirloom tomato or bean or pepper plants. The great thing about buying from a local farm is that you can find varieties not available at your nearby garden store. And, if you shop around, you can find organically grown plants.
Spring is the best time for all the many greens out there! Autumn can be great too, but I find the greens to be a bit fresher and younger in the spring.
Young spinach, chard, baby kale, the greens of many vegetables like beets, a variety of lettuces, and many other greens will be on display. If you like sauteed greens, salads, or kale smoothies, this is the time of year to find everything you want. For a little more info on the types of greens which may be available, check out this Farmers’ Market Guide to Greens.
These are fruits and vegetables which don’t do well when factory farmed or don’t travel well or aren’t even farmed at all but rather foraged. You may see some of these from time to time at the supermarket, but it’s local farms which tend to specialize in these products.
Some of the foraged produce you may see include ramps, fiddlehead ferns, dandelion leaves, and wild mushrooms. As for the more niche, but still farmed items, these include garlic scapes, English shelling peas, spring onions (separate from green onions), fava beans, and Hakurei turnips.
The farmers’ market is great place to try something new (like garlic scapes) or something you don’t find everyday (like shelling peas). If you are worried about recipes, I do have a few myself and the farmers often have ideas as well.
You’ll also find many of the products you see in the supermarket, only fresher. There is really nothing like a fresh picked strawberry or asparagus or radishes. Whether they are healthier for you is debatable, but you can’t beat the flavor. Also, the farmers might be growing varietals with different flavor, color, or texture from the standard supermarket versions.
Some of the more common produce you might find includes rhubarb, radishes, beets, strawberries, asparagus, artichokes, snap peas, and cut herbs.
Ingredient Spotlights for the Spring Farmers’ Market
From time to time I write up in depth articles about various ingredients with recipe ideas, history, and nutritional information. Here are my spring ingredient spotlights:
Spring Farmers’ Market Recipes
You can also check out these great roundups of spring farmers’ market recipes: