The Saturday Farmer's Market, also known as the Green Market, summer 2003, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York. In the background the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library can be seen. The columns with eagles (left column shown) were part of the additions of McKim, Mead, and White
Farmers' markets are usually held outside where farmers can sell their produce to the public. Products are renowned for being locally-grown, very fresh - and come direct to market without going through a middle man. Farmer's markets often feature additive-free or organic produce.
Retail farmers' markets have been set up in recent years in many towns and cities in the USA, and some folks would think this is a new idea. Actually it is a very traditional way of selling agricultural and home manufactured products; a weekly market day is a part of normal life for many villages throughout the world. A good way for a traveler to sample local foods and learn about local culture is to attend market day, when it coincides with a festival, such as the Fiesta de San Antonio in many towns in Latin America.
In the US and Canada, farmers' markets have taken off in popularity over the last decade, fuelled by the increased interest in healthier foods and lifestyles. New markets appear regularly, and old markets - many have been around for over a hundred years - are seeing new growth. Market quality varies, so it's always worth looking around and chatting with the invidual vendors. Some markets are carefully managed, with strict rules for pricing, quality and overall market selection. Others are much more relaxed in their vendor criteria. It's not unusual to find stands selling regular commercial produce bought at big wholesale depots. If you're looking for fresh, locally grown produce, be sure to read the signs and don't hesitate to talk to the farmers!
Some farmers' markets are mostly wholesale, such as the South Carolina State Farmers' Market, which is a major eastern supplier of watermelons, cantaloupes, and peaches for produce buyers from northeastern USA. Farmers' markets also may supply buyers from produce stands, restaurants, and garden stores with fresh fruits and vegetables, started garden plants, nursery stock, honey, and other agricultural products. The largest wholesale farmers market in the world is the Hunts Point Cooperative Market in South Bronx in New York City.