It’s May, and that means we’ll soon be seeing farmers' markets popping up all over Cambridge. We’re lucky. Once they’re in full swing, farmers' markets will be operating in different neighborhoods virtually every day of the week and offering an amazing array of goodies.
Farmers' markets used to be more limited—fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes, salad makings, a few vegetables, perhaps a kitchen-table bouquet of flowers. Today, farmers' markets Cambridge style are a go-to source for a huge variety of organic produce, fresh eggs, and pasta, humanely raised meats, just-caught fish and just-roasted coffee, local honey, and artisan cheeses. The city’s ethnic and food diversity is on display as well, with everything from homemade tamales to Turkish pastries. And that’s just the food. You can also buy sustainable kitchen wares, plants, and gift certificates, for instance.
Here's a snapshot of Cambridge farmers’ markets, all of which have EBT, WIC, SNAP and HIP programs to make healthy, organic food available to more people. Specific days, hours, upcoming start dates, and vendors are on the market websites.
Central Square Farmers Market, 76 Bishop Allen Drive
Davis Square Farmers Market, Davis and Herbert Streets, Somerville
Charles River Farmers Market, Charles Hotel (Eliot and Bennet Streets), and Morse School (40 Granite Street) Cambridgeport
Harvard University Farmers Market Harvard Science Center Plaza (Oxford and Kirkland Streets)
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Closely aligned to farmers' markets are CSAs, community-supported agriculture programs. These subscription-based organizations let you sign up for an entire season of fresh, organic food, either delivered or ready for you to pick up weekly. There are lots of CSAs with lots of options for frequency, types of food, size of the share, pick-your-own, etc. Here are just three: Farmer Dave’s, Redfire Farm, and Siena Farms.
There are lots of reasons to shop at your favorite Cambridge farmer's markets. Fresh, nutritious, usually organic food tops the list, but there are other compelling reasons. Supporting local agriculture, predominantly family-owned farms, enables these hardworking people to sell without middlemen eating into their profits. This is true for other market vendors as well, people selling artisan bread, homemade pasta, street food, or crafts.
CSAs provide even more support for local growers. By signing up for the entire season, you enable them to plan what and how much they grow, and you share the risk, such as prolonged drought and resulting in a smaller harvest. (Of course, you’re just as likely to share the extra bounty of a really good season.)
Cambridge has a full complement of grocery stores, specialty food shops, and convenience stores. Wonderful as some of them are, shopping there is not the same as at a farmer’s market. Cambridge farmers' markets are about meandering past stalls, chatting with vendors, trying new foods, and running into neighbors. This is what community means, and there is no better place to see Cambridge’s unique multi-national community in action than at a nearby farmers' market. Farmers' markets feed your soul as well as your body.
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