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The Best U.S. Cities for Farmers Markets

Title image for the best U.S. cities for farmers markets

There are many reasons farmers markets are one of our favorite places to be in summer. Walking down to your local farmers market is a fantastic way to get out into the community again, breathe fresh air, and be surrounded by nature's bounty of local, organic, farm-to-table produce! Taking in the sights, sounds, and colors of our local farmers market is much more charming than droning down grocery store aisles.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to frequent your local farmers markets is to show support for the men and women who toil in the fields to put organic and delightfully refreshing food on our tables. In a typical grocery store or supermarket, farmers only make 15 cents of every dollar spent on the food they sell. At a farmer's market, however, they take home 100% of the proceeds.

But not every city is as accommodating for farmers markets. So which are the best for farm to table goodness? With our mouths properly salivating, we simply had to find out.

We collected data on the 50 largest U.S. cities based on population size for the following factors which affect the quality of the farmers market experience:

Number of farmers markets

  • Weight: 2.00

Number of winter markets

  • Weight: 1.50

Number of organic farmers markets

  • Weight: 1.50

Number of farmers markets that take credit card

  • Weight: 1.50

Average temperature difference from 70 degrees F

  • Weight: 1.25

Average annual rainfall

  • Weight: 1.25

City walk score

  • Weight: 1.00

Each city was scored on each factor, with 0 representing the worst and 10 representing the best conditions. Each factor was also weighted according to its impact on a quality trip to the farmer's market. We determined each city's final score using an algorithm that used factor scores and weights to assign a score from 0 to 50. Higher scores indicated better cities for farmers markets. Read on to see what we found!

The Best U.S. Cities for Farmers Markets

Map depicting the top 10 best U.S. cities for farmers markets

First we looked at the best cities for farmers markets. Los Angeles took first place in our ranking with a very high score of 42.9. We weren't surprised to see a Californian city at the top of the list due to the Golden State's reputation for trends like farm to table, sustainable food sourcing, organic farming, and more. We were surprised, however, to see just how far ahead of the pack Los Angeles was.

The runner up is another west coast city, Portland, Oregon, which scored 29.9 out of 50. That's a full 13 points below Los Angeles!

That's not to say Portland is a bad place to live for farmers market fans, though. The number two city features 22 farmers markets (just two less than it's Californian counterpart), 12 winter markets, and a very solid walk score of 67. Portland was only held back by fewer organic markets and a tendency to drop sheets of rain on farmers market goers.

Coastal states continued to star throughout our top 10 list with Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, and the District of Columbia all making appearances. The only landlocked city to taste the glory of the top 10 was Chicago, Illinois-which barely earned our "best" moniker as it squeaked onto ninth place.

The Worst U.S. Cities for Farmers Markets

Map ranking the top 10 worst U.S. cities for farmers markets

When it comes to the worst cities for farmers markets, the East Coast is a rough place to live. Nearly all 10 of the worst cities are in the North East and South regions of the country. Buffalo, New York, topped our bottom list with an astonishingly low score of 5.9. Virginia Beach, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina, rounded out our bottom three cities with similarly dismal scores of 6.4 and 6.7, respectively. In fact, none of the locations in the top 10 worst cities for farmers markets cracked double digits with their city scores. Why?

First and foremost, these cities simply don't have many farmers markets to shop at. There are just 32 farmers markets spread out across these 10 cities combined, whereas New York City (the fourth best city for farmers markets) has 39 farmers markets alone.

If you're interested in gourds, root vegetables and other produce grown during the cold season, you're out of luck there as well. Winter markets are all but non-existent in the 10 worst cities for farmers markets.

Not to rain on the East Coast parade any further, but these cities have another theme-rain. The average annual rainfall across these 10 cities is 42.6 inches. Good luck finding a dry, sunny day to mull over organic fruits and vegetables! But every city has its strengths, right? Let's see which cities came out on top for three of our most important factors.

Individual factors

Infographic displaying the top 5 cities for specific factors for farmers markets

Whether you're buying at the supermarket, the farmers market, or growing your own produce at home, organic produce provides the most natural and healthy eating experience. Grown sans pesticides or chemicals, it's the highest quality produce you can buy. Look for the USDA Organic seal in the supermarket to know you're getting the real deal (using the word "organic" in the product name or anywhere else on packaging is unregulated)-or visit a farmers market and buy straight from the source.

The best city to buy organic produce is Los Angeles, where there are 14 farmers markets vending organic food. Atlanta and Georgia tied for second with 7 organic markets while Midwestern Chicago takes third place.

If you're in the mood for turnips, beets or potatoes to brew up a heartwarming hygge soup in the dead of winter, you'll...still want to live in Los Angeles. The Californian metro takes first place again with 15 winter markets waiting to be perused. But considering "winter" in the City of Angels is barely sweater weather, we think New York City may be the real winner here. The Big Apple features 14 winter markets to dig into and get your fill of carrots, rutabaga, and, well, apples.

Winter or summer, no one wants to be wet at their favorite farmers market. We're not surprised to see desert states like Nevada and Arizona taking top spots in this ranking. In fact, when you're as close to the desert as Las Vegas and Phoenix are, you might find yourself secretly wishing a few fat droplets of water would fall from the sky. Sun-soaked Californian metros like San Diego, Riverside, and Los Angeles make the list as well, with 10.3 to 12.8 inches of annual rainfall on average. If you're parched just reading this, Denver has a milder climate and is the fifth least rainy city for farmers markets with just 15.6 inches per year on average.

Final Thoughts

Visiting farmers markets is an inspiring way to fully realize the value of fresh, locally grown produce. It allows us to get to know the people who grow our food and see exactly where that food comes from. However, we learned that not every city makes it easy to experience the myriad benefits of farmers market trips. So what if you don't live in one of the top cities for farmers markets? We've got you covered. Get gardening and organic pest control supplies from Gardens Alive and grow your own food at home!


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