Farmers Markets Across the Region Ready to Open

Be part of the farm to table trend! We've got links to find one near you.

More and more people are shopping at farmers markets, thanks to the growing "farm to table" movement, where people like knowing where their food comes from and who's growing it. Here are of some of the more interesting farm markets we found in the Pittsburgh region, and how to get information on ones in your neighborhood.

Allegheny County

The granddaddy of all Farmers Markets in our region is the Market Square Farmers Market Downtown each Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m, kicking off May 16. The market draws up to 10,000 visitors each week, with over 30 vendors selling everything from fresh flowers and herbs, to vegetables, fruit, organic milk and cheese, baked goods, and prepared foods for the lunch crowd.

Sand Hill Berries brings berries and everything else berry including pies, jellies and jams

The City of Pittsburgh hosts seven other weekly markets, starting Friday, May 10, in Mellon Square, Downtown. Most of the rest of the markets launch the next week, with a couple starting in June ( click here for the full list including locations, dates and times). There's a new monthly market in Larimer this year, scheduled for the fourth Sunday of each month from 3-7 p.m.

There are dozens of other smaller community and church markets throughout the county. The PA Department of Agriculture has a searchable database of farm markets to find one near you.

Beaver County

The Beaver County Times has a nice article listing details for the six Farmer's Markets in that county and a few more on the county line.

"For a lot of people, it's a social event, too," Tim Haffey, Enon Country Gardens. "People go there to talk to people."

The Times says leafy greens will be among spring's first offerings, quickly followed by rhubarb, peas and strawberries. In the summer, look for peppers, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, and corn by mid-July. Most markets also offer "value-added products" like honey, wine, baked goods, prepared foods, meats.

Butler County

The Butler County Visitors Bureau has a list of farmer's markets around the county ( click here ).

One we found interesting: Freedom Farms , 440 Overbrook Rd. Valencia. You might remember them as the stars of the cable reality show "Farm Kings ." Not only do they have a permanent market where they sell their own fresh produce, they sell farm fresh meats, cut to your specifications, and travel their market to pop-up locations in the South Hills, Hampton, Aspinwall and Bloomfield. Freedom Farms also has regular farm-based events.

Freedom Farms has pop-up produce stands across the area in addition to their permanent market.

Freedom Farms also offers a CSA ( Community Supported Agriculture ) subscription program. Put simply, when you subscribe to a CSA, you receive a regular delivery of whatever is in-season on that particular farm at that particular time. A group called Local Harvest ( click here ) has more info on CSAs and how to find one near you.

Washington County

Washington County has a ton of Farmers Markets , and the Main Street Farmers Market at Community Pavilion (139 S. Main Street 15301) is one of the biggest. They'll launch their 16th season on May 16 and be back every Thursday from 3-6 p.m.

Washington County's largest Farmers Market is in the Community Pavilion downtown.

Like other markets, they feature picked-fresh produce and locally made or raised products -- they've got an image of fresh brown eggs on their website ( here's a list of their vendors ). They also have performances by local musicians, weekly "Sunday Suppers" featuring dishes made from locally farmed food, and other special events.

Westmoreland County

Westmoreland County as a virtual smorgasboard of farm markets, including markets at a lamb farm, a turkey farm, a smokehouse and three wineries. Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation has a good list on their website -- scroll to the bottom for links.

Every farm market has fresh picked vegetables, but many also have unique food and items for sale.

The Ligonier Country Market looked like fun -- and huge. Their website boasts over 150 vendors who "make it, bake it, or grow it," from fresh picked fruits and veggies, to homemade cheese, honey, maple syrup, jams, breads and pickles. They also have handmade artisan items, and there's an on site kids' garden and a Penn State master garden. The market opens May 18.

Ligonier Country Market is one of the largest in the area with 150 vendors.

Westmoreland County also has a Farmers Market Nutrition Program that supplements other government nutrition programs. You can get four $5 FMNP vouchers to redeem at qualified farmers' markets or roadside stands for fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Pennsylvania. Click here for a list of places to get the vouchers.

(Images: farm market Facebook pages)

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