The spring growing season is upon us and it's time to usher in an abundance of fresh, flavorful produce. The best place to find that produce, of course, is at your neighborhood farmers market. Plus, you'll often have the opportunity to meet the farmers and producers who work hard all year to deliver these choice goods.
Downtown Farmers Market manager Ashley Shaw offers some advice: "It's very possible to do the majority of your shopping for the week at a farmers market, but it may require a little creativity, depending on the time of year and the size of your neighborhood market. I would recommend deciding what you'll cook once you arrive at the market. Take a walk around to see what each of the farmers has available. You can even ask for recommendations based on available produce.
"If you see something that you've never tried before, ask the farmer what they usually do with it at home. They're the experts and they love taking the opportunity to talk about their products with you."
Here are a few of Cleveland's best seasonal farmers markets:
Tremont Farmers Market
Featuring locally grown fruits and veggies, organic cheese from grass-fed cows, grass-raised meats, vegan baked goods, homemade pierogies, Gaelic food, croissants and salads. Cooking demonstrations are frequently conducted by Tremont chefs. Live music also is common.
Lincoln Park, Tuesdays 4 to 7 p.m. through September, tremontfarmersmarket.com.
Downtown farmers market
This year-round market is held indoors at the 5th Street Arcades until June, when it moves outdoors to Public Square through October. The market offers free monthly cooking classes hosted by area chefs at Old Stone Church, including local foods champion Parker Bosley.
Public Square and 5th Street Arcades, Fridays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round, downtownclevelandmarket.org.
Coit Road Farmers Market
Founded in 1932, this market was providing access to locally sourced food long before shopping at farmers markets became all the rage. You'll find fresh vegetables and fruits, spices, local baked goods, and locally crafted items. Prices at this market are exceptionally reasonable.
15000 Woodworth Ave., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round; Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. through November, coitmarket.org.
Gordon Square Farmers Market
This market is comprised predominately of urban growers with most produce grown within city limits. Founded in 2008, the market will see big changes this year with more local vendors, more food and more Gordon Square arts.
Cleveland Public Theatre lot, Wednesdays 4 to 7 p.m. June through September, gordonsquaremarket.org.
North Union Farmers Market
The granddaddy of them all, with locations all over town, North Union is the most robust network of farmers in the region. As a true "producers-only market," North Union certifies that all produce is sold directly by the people who grow, raise or produce it.
Multiple locations and times, northunionfarmersmarket.org.