Market Forces

By J. Kenji Alt | Boston Magazine |

BELMONT

This one’s focused solely on growers and producers, so don’t look for the handmade soaps and trinkets that clutter other markets. Instead, expect one of the most complete food experiences around, with handmade cheeses, local honey, sustainably raised lamb and pork, handcrafted chocolates and desserts, and produce harvested mere hours before you lay eyes on it.
Don’t Miss:
The Shy Brothers’ Hannahbell cheese from the NorthStar stand: Creamy, thimble-shaped one-biters with a mild tang, they make great snacks for big kids who’ve finally outgrown the Laughing Cow.
Insider Tip: Sign up for the market’s e-newsletter for tips on product availability, event listings, and recipes. 2–6:30 p.m. Thursdays through 10/30, Belmont Center parking lot, belmontfarmersmarket.org.

BROOKLINE

Beyond the standard assortment of produce, this Coolidge Corner stalwart offers the makings of a whole meal: local beef and fish, free-range eggs, fresh-baked bread. Plus, Trombetta’s ice cream will keep the kids happy while you root through the purple sprouting broccoli.
Don’t Miss: Crisp ancienne loaves from Brookline’s Clear Flour Bread.
Insider Tip: Skip the flavored Gouda spreads (though never the free samples!), and reach instead for a block of the ultrapungent four-year-old "rat" cheddar at Smith’s Country Cheese. 1:30 p.m.–dusk Thursdays through 10/30, Centre Street parking lot, off Beacon Street, Brookline, town.brookline.ma.us/farmersmarket.

CENTRAL SQUARE

Though it’s within hailing distance of the organic vegetables of Whole Foods and Harvest Co-op, this Monday bonanza attracts chefs, locals, and MIT students. The live flowers that dominate many of the stands confirm that Central Square is for lovers.
Don’t Miss: Herbs from the Herb Lyceum, the family farm of local-foods champion Will Gilson (see sidebar), chef of Garden at the Cellar.
Insider Tip: Check under the tables in August and September for dirt-cheap (even free) crates of too-mushy-to-slice-but-perfect-for-sauce heirloom tomatoes. 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Mondays (closes at 5 in November) through 11/24, parking lot 5 on Bishop Allen Drive, at Norfolk Street, Cambridge, massfarmersmarkets.org.

COPLEY SQUARE

In the shadow of Trinity Church and a few blocks from Newbury, this market on Copley Square’s western side targets those who like to duck out of work for a leisurely walk highlighted by sweet gooseberries, peppery breakfast radishes, and surreptitious people-watching.
Don’t Miss: Homemade tarts, garlic scapes, and other fine edibles from Oleana chef Ana Sortun’s Siena Farms.
Insider Tip: Start a conversation with Aidan of Stillman’s Farm to get advice on the best deals of the day—and what to do with them. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays (closes at 5 p.m. in November) through 11/25, along St. James Avenue, Boston, massfarmersmarkets.org.

DAVIS SQUARE

Its intimate layout and convivial collegiate setting make this community-oriented market almost as good for picking up people as peaches. Shoppers steer more toward top-shelf boutique items than everyday staples, so expect to find highest-quality products—and to pay for them.
Don’t Miss: Redbones’ annual grill day (planned for sometime in August), showcasing farm-fresh produce from vendor stands prepared in a mobile outdoor kitchen.
Insider Tip: Call River Rock Farm the Monday before to order specialty cuts of its pasture-raised all-natural beef (413-245-0249). Noon–6 p.m. Wednesdays through 11/26, Day and Herbert streets parking lot, Somerville, massfarmersmarkets.org.

KENDALL SQUARE

Though only in its second season, Kendall draws neighborhood residents, foodies, and art-house junkies alike with its close proximity to the independent Kendall Square Cinema and Berklee’s Kendall Square Concert Series (the latter of which can be heard every Thursday at noon, free of charge).
Don’t Miss: Ultrafruity, light-roasted, stone-ground chocolate from Somerville’s Taza and pesto from Linabella’s Gourmet Garlic Farm in Oakham are the real—and local—deal.
Insider Tip: If you can’t score parking on Third Street, a spot in the new underground garage will cost you only $6 for an hour’s worth of shopping. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Thursdays through 11/6, 500 Kendall St., Cambridge, kendallsquare.org.

LEXINGTON

Named one of the 15 most innovative farmers’ markets in the country by the Project for Public Spaces, this 23-tenter features local artists setting up shop among farmers and specialty food vendors.
Don’t Miss: Mozzarella from Lourdes Smith of Fiore di Nonno, who learned the art of hand-pulling cheese from her grandfather.
Insider Tip: To avoid a ticket, park in the newly built Edison Way lot and catch the free Lexpress bus service from Depot Square to the market. 2–6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through 10/28, corner of Massachusetts and Fletcher avenues, lexingtonfarmersmarket.org.

UNION SQUARE

Aside from the usual lineup of potatoes, asparagus, corn, and other New England produce, this vibrant spread competes with Reliable Market, Union Square’s Korean megastore, with a diverse offering of locally grown Asian greens and vegetables.
Don’t Miss: As the 1917 birthplace of Marshmallow Fluff, Union Square hosts a tribute to the white goo on 9/27.
Insider Tip: Show up with dull knives in hand at Siraco’s mobile sharpening van on the second and last Saturdays of the month. 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturdays through 10/25, Union Square Plaza, Somerville, unionsquaremain.org.