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'Tis the Season for the Farmers Market

Check out 12 we scouted or find one close to you for local, organic food

woman at farmers' market with basket of peaches

Americans are turning to farmers markets for fresher, more nutritious foods. — Blend/Getty Images

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

FRESHFARM Market, Dupont Circle

"Promoting local food with a face, a place and a taste" — that's the slogan of FRESHFARM Markets, the nonprofit organization that runs producer-only farmers markets in Washington, D.C.'s eclectic Dupont Circle neighborhood and at 10 other locations in the region. Taken together, the markets give some 360,000 shoppers a year access to the fresh, local wares of 150 farmers from five states.

On Sundays at Dupont Circle, vendors' tents snake through a bank parking lot and a few cordoned-off city blocks. Products range from the traditional to the edgy-gourmet. From Cibola Farms of Culpeper, Va. — where livestock is raised without antibiotics or growth hormones — come free-range pork and bison meats including an addictive buffalo jerky. From Everona Dairy of Rapidan, Va., comes handcrafted artisanal cheeses made with milk from dairy owners' own sheep; their Swiss-style cheese called Shenandoah has won top honors at the United States Cheese Contest and the World Cheese Championship.

At the Twin Springs Fruit Farm stall, a plate of GoldRush apple samples emptied almost as quickly as it was refilled, as an employee of the Pennsylvania orchard explained how scientists crossed Golden Delicious with other species to produce the apple's deep-yellow shade and intense flavor. Across the market aisle, shoppers sniffed bars of detergent-free soap scented with essential oils and speckled with herbs and flower petals, made at Harmony Creek Farm in Bealeton, Va.

The FRESHFARM markets in Dupont Circle and in Silver Spring, Md., operate year-round. For shorter seasons on different days, FRESHFARM operates smaller markets throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District (see schedules and locations at www.freshfarmmarkets.org). In 2009 when a new market was established near the White House, "First lady Michelle Obama attended the opening, and I got to thank her for making healthy eating a national priority," says FRESHFARM co-director Bernadine Prince. New this year at the White House location: a concession called Red Zebra, making upscale pizzas with local market ingredients and baking them on-site in a mobile wood-fired oven.    

www.freshfarmmarkets.org

 202-362-8889

20th Street, NW between Connecticut and Massachusetts Avenues NW, Washington, D.C.

Sundays year-round, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Markets operate on different days and seasonal schedules at five other locations in the District, four locations in Maryland and one in Virginia; details are at www.freshfarmmarkets.org.

Next: Illinois farmers market. >>

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