18th and Walnut streets
Market stars: Lavender and lilies—in a whole rainbow of colors—from, yes, Lilies and Lavender flower farm in Doylestown. How can you resist? What the regulars know: Last season, the market expanded, and shoppers sometimes overlook the addition just around the corner, on 18th between Walnut and Locust. All the newest farmers are on that little stretch—don’t miss it! December to April, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays; May to November, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Farmtocity.org.
36th and Walnut streets
Market star: Fruit. Biglerville’s Beechwood Orchards is a huge producer of everything from berries to peaches to cherries, and offers brimming boxes of grapes, plums, apricots and nectarines as well. Snack on: Watch for Lancaster’s gluten-free baker, Amaranth, starting in the fall. May through Thanksgiving, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. Farmtocity.org.
43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue
Market stars: Chocolate milk and cheese (especially the sharp cheddar) from Wyalusing’s Hails Family Farm, which specializes in all-organic local dairy. Just arrive early; by 11 a.m. the park gets crowded, and it stays crowded all day. Snack on: BBQ chicken and ribs, straight from the coals, from Country Meadows Farm. Or tacos: On Thursday, it’s Guapos Tacos; on Saturday, it’s Honest Tom’s. Year-round, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and June 2nd to November 17th, 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Headhousemarket.org
Along Atlantic Avenue between Collings and Irvin avenues
Market stars: Early in the season, farmers will bring surplus vegetable plants to sell. Which means you can get nicely priced, decent-sized, well-loved, professionally grown vegetable seedlings to plant in your own garden. Snack on: Tortilla Press’s fresh quesadillas, made from ingredients pulled from the market early that morning. The insides change weekly, depending on the crops available. May 7th to November 19th, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Collingswoodmarket.com.
Lancaster and Morris avenues
Market stars: Shellbark Sharp from West Chester is the goat cheese everybody raves over, but the lesser-known gem is Shellbark Hollow Farm’s marinated chèvre, which comes in pretty little jars with olive oil and herbs. Farmers to meet: Jeannette and Wayne Grabe of Canter Hill Farm in Malvern, who bring poultry—guinea fowl, chickens, ducks—in addition to the lamb for which they’re known, and who will tell you fabulous dishes you can make with them. April 23rd through October, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays; November through April, every fourth Saturday. Brynmawrfarmersmarket.blogspot.com.
South & Passyunk
South Street and Passyunk Avenue, just east of 5th Street
Market stars: Lancaster’s Livengood Family Farm’s pork, beef and, at Thanksgiving, turkey. Livengood’s is one of the longest-standing contributors to farmers’ markets in Philly—and this market is the oldest in the city. What the regulars know: Earl Livengood occasionally has whole chickens you can pre-order and pick up—just ask him when you’re there. Mid-May to November 22nd, 2:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. Farmtocity.org.
West Chester Growers Market
Church and Chestnut streets
Market stars: The spring’s first strawberries—so sweet!—from Blueberry Hill Farm in Stroudsburg. Another springtime beauty to look for: snow peas from Lincoln University’s Maple Hill Farm. What the regulars know: Call it the do-gooder’s farm market: This co-op (owned and run by its members) has its farmers donate produce to local food banks once a month—food banks that would otherwise have few fresh fruits and vegetables to offer to those in need. They’re also initiating a BYOB—Bring Your Own Bag—policy this year, trying to eliminate plastics from the market entirely. May through November, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Westchestergrowersmarket.com.