I've noticed a couple of recurring themes for towns and cities that people rate as good retirement choices. We know that for retirement, people love university towns and apparently, people also seem to love farmers markets. Even my husband, who is the least organic, woo-woo person I know, gets excited by good tomatoes, fresh homemade mozzarella and some handcrafted crusty bread.
When you think about it, if a town has a great farmers market, it's a pretty good indication that it's in a community that supports and cares about the local economy. Stroll through any farmers market and you will see a nice selection of crunchy hippies who will give you a supportive smile and a hello as you squeeze the organic tomatillos. Who doesn't love that? (Ok, truthfully, my husband wouldn't like that, but I do.)
Farmers markets also anchor capital in the community and are fertile ground for small business start-ups because customers are more open to trying new products and because the barriers to entry for new vendors are lower in farmers markets than most other venues.
And it's good for our environment. According to the Farmer's Market Coalition, "Each year, more and more customers are drawn to farmer's markets due to an increasing demand for natural and organic food. According to a USDA survey, markets that sell organic products report more customers per week, more vendors, and larger monthly sales. This upward trend depicts a rising consciousness among customers who are concerned with not just what they eat, but how it is produced. As a result, more and more farmers are adopting environmentally sound farming practices that improve, rather than degrade, the natural environment."
The online site, The Daily Meal has a list of the top 100 Farmer's Markets in the U.S. We've highlighted 10 that overlap with the Top Cities for Successful Aging Report from the Milken Institute. And if you know these towns and markets and want to weigh in on the discussion, go to the Location linked to GangsAway.com and please, tell us what you think.
Hope Farmer's Market, Austin, TX
Described by some as "dripping with Austin attitude," the Hope Farmers Market is a gathering place for everyone. Visitors come to shop for fresh food and one-of-a-kind crafts, and to listen and dance to music performed by local musicians. With market food like wheatgrass, lavender, and mix-and-match ice cream cookie sandwiches, as well as handmade crafts like wooden rocking chairs and beaded jewelry, there's something here for every free-spirited hipster of Austin.
Omaha Farmer's Market, Omaha NE
Locals say the Omaha Farmers Market is one of the best parts of summer in Omaha. They love it because while produce changes with the seasons, the vendors, atmosphere, and people stay the same. At the market, you'll find fresh-picked celery, German sausage, and ready-made habanero lime pasta.
West Side Market, Cleveland, OH
Cleveland's oldest public market (dating back to 1840), West Side Market is quite ethnically diverse, offering all sorts of vegetables, European breads and pastries, and ready-to-eat foods like gyros and crepês, among other hand-crafted bites.
St. Paul's Farmers' Market, St. Paul, MN
With more than 300 vendors, the Saint Paul Farmers' Market is not only the largest market in Minnesota, but may be one of the largest in the nation. Operating near a spot that housed one of the very first farmers markets in the state in 1853, it has everything from fruits and vegetables to flowers, herbs, and plants to artisan-made foods and even seasonal items like Christmas trees, wreaths, and pumpkins. Saint Paul Farmers' Markets are held every Saturday from April through November.
Farm Fresh Market, Washington DC
Fresh Market's Dupont Circle location is open every Sunday year-round. The market raises money to match dollars for families using SNAP, WIC, and SFMNP in order to get more fresh produce into community kitchens.
Ithaca Farmers Market, Ithaca, NY
Located next to the waterfront at the historical Steamboat Landing, the Ithaca Farmers Market functions as a place for visitors and locals alike to shop for fresh, local food and special gifts. Blueberries and blueberry wine, milk cheeses, paintings of traditional Chinese designs, and hand-blown glass can all be found at the market. The Ithaca Farmers Market is open Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at four different locations.
KCC Farmers Market, Honolulu, HI
The KCC Saturday and Tuesday Farmers Markets is one of several markets put on by the Hawaii Farm Bureau, whose mission is to "enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities." Patrons enjoy local coffee, sea asparagus, ginger, and locally caught fish, among many other Hawaiian treats. The KCC Market is held every Saturday and Tuesday year-round.
Morgantown Farmers Market, Morgantown, WV
All of the produce sold at the Morgantown Farmers Market is grown within a 50-mile radius. Everything from eggs and goat cheese to pork, lamb, fruits, and vegetables can be found in the permanent covered building. The summer market runs every Saturday, May through November, and one Saturday a month during the winter months.
Mississippi Farmers Market, Jackson MS
This year-round market is the largest of its kind in the state of Mississippi. Breakfast and lunch are served in Southern restaurant the Farmers Table at the market as well. It even has an app for patrons to check in on what they can find each day at the market.
Black Hills Farmers Market, Rapid City, SD
The Black Hills Farmers Market is open Saturdays in May to November, selling locally grown vegetables, herbs, house plants, baked goods, and granola. With more than 40 vendors attending the weekly market, there really is something for everyone.
Note to the reader: the jury is out on whether there is an apostrophe in Farmer's Market or is it Farmers' Market or just plain Farmers Market. No one seems to agree. I've tried them all. See which one you like best.