Local farmers’ markets: Fresh ingredients you don’t have to get down on your hands and knees for

Above: Representative from the Natick Community Organic Farm talking to children at Ashland Farmers Market (Photo by Beth Melo)

One summer long ago, I found myself on my hands and knees picking strawberries at Tougas Family Farm in Northborough. My Noni wanted fresh strawberries to make her famous strawberry-rubarb pie; so, it was up to me pick them from the low-lying bush in the hot summer sun.

This summer, you don’t have to get down on your hands and knees to get the freshest fruits and vegetables. Check out these local farmers’ markets:

One reader recently suggested shopping at Water Fresh Farms  – Open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m on 151 Hayden Rowe St., in Hopkinton.

Owners Phil Todaro and Jeff Burton use a method called hydropanic greenhouse farming, a pesticide free way of farming that recycles water and uses hydroponic –  a term used to describe growing plants without soil. (Read more about the concept here).

I’ve been hearing a lot about the Ashland Farmer’s Market recently – it’s expected to have its biggest year yet, with over 30 vendors. I haven’t had a chance to go, but it’s definitely on my summer to do list.

Ashland Farmers Market  – Open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from now until October 11, on 125 Front St., in Ashland.

According to the MetroWest Daily News, “The farmers market is a unique asset for Ashland as the town doesn’t have its own farms or farm stands. This summer’s market will bring in five farms from Hopkinton, Medway, Sherborn and Holliston. The market has also invited a Hmong farmer who grows Asian vegetables.”

The Westborough Farmers Market  – Open every Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. through September at the Congregational Church in downtown Westborough.

Features include: Organic fruits and vegetables, local artisanal cheeses, wine and baked goods, fresh seafood, grass-fed pork and lamb, honey and maple syrup, local crafts, handmade goods, live music and free children’s activities, and lunch from local food trucks.

“Bernadette Markey of Hopkinton has been going to the Westborough Farmers’ Market since 2011. . .The organic kale, lettuces, and berries that you can get from Harvey’s, Dismas, and Heirloom Harvest are wonderful and incredibly fresh. Nothing like it. But I’m also drawn to Five Loaves Bakery with their yummy scones and country bread – amazing.  My kids love the Farmers’ Market, too, especially Yummy Mummy Brownies which are incredible!” (Read more).

And coming soon… new  for this year is the Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market opening Wednesday, July 9, from 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury. (Open every Wednesday following July 9 to October 15). Features include:  local produce, special jams and honey, baked goods, dairy products, and more.

If you’d like to share your favorite farmers’ market or places to get fresh food, comment below! I’d love to hear your recommendations.

[Note from Beth: Since all these places Alyssa wrote about seem great for kids, too – I’m adding it to my list of “what to do with your kids this summer” posts. As with most of these, it doesn’t mean they aren’t great places for people without kids, too!]

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Ellen Parlee
9 years ago

Pick your own is great family fun for all ages, but sometimes you just want to grab and go. It’s wonderful to support local farmers. Local, fresh berries are the best kind!

Desiree Aselbekian
9 years ago

I was at the Hopkinton Farmer’s Market last Sunday. I think it’s open 1-4pm every Sunday this summer. There were some great vendors including but not limited to: fruit and veggie farms (Hopkinton & Upton), honey (Holliston), everything blueberry (dessert wine, desserts, jams, etc.), breads and treats, fresh butcher meats, local wine, and cheese. They even have a liquor license, so you can sample wine on site. Alpacas were there too. The kids loved them. The vendor sold Alpaca fleece blankets and warm gear. Plus, there was a band playing all afternoon. Very fun. Check it out. Right next door.

Desiree Aselbekian
9 years ago

Beth, I forgot to list the site.

Suzy Green
9 years ago

Water Fresh Farm (WFF) is also a great place to go for coffee and/or baked goods, breakfast, lunch, as well as an ice cream cone in the afternoon or evening. The lunch options include delicious salads, soups and sandwiches using vegetables that are grown in the Water Fresh Farm greenhouses.

You can eat at a table in the café area of the market, at a picnic table outside, or on the wood deck in the greenhouse accessible from a door in the back of the market (where you can observe the greenhouse operations). There is an information board by the deck which describes how the vegetable are grown using hydroponic techniques (without soil). It is kind of like going to the “Land” exhibit in the Epcot Center at Disney World (without the boat ride through the hydroponic garden there and the high cost Disney admission ticket).

Ice cream at the silo is from Crescent Ridge Dairy in Sharon, Massachusetts using cream and milk from their own cows.

Water Fresh Farm also has unique gift items in its market. There is jewelry, pottery, baskets, home décor items, scented soap and candles and more made by women who are trying to support themselves and their families (most from developing countries).

Water Fresh Farm is a wonderful place for fresh produce, food items, a meal and/or a gift.

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