- Visit North Central
From the first peas of spring to the hefty pumpkins of fall, the bounty of Johnny Appleseed Country is at your fingertips.
While pick-your-own orchards and farms invite visitors to pluck sweet strawberries and rosy red apples to fill their baskets on a fun family adventure, the abundance of locally-grown produce can most easily be found at area farm stands and farmers’ markets. You can find crisp lettuce, leafy spinach, or a rainbow of shiny peppers almost any day of the week by stopping by the popular markets scattered throughout the region’s cities and towns.
And while many markets are seasonal — opening in spring and closing before winter’s chill sets in — the Fitchburg farmers’ market runs year-round, moving into the cozy confines of the Fitchburg Art Museum from January to June. In warmer weather — from July through October, the farmers and gardeners can be found at the Burbank Campus of Health Alliance, and at Riverfront Park in downtown Fitchburg. Athol’s farmers market moves indoors for the winter, too, operating on the first Saturday of the month in the town hall.
No matter where you’re traveling throughout Johnny Appleseed Country, there’s sure to be a farmstand or farmers’ market nearby. For example, in Gardner, you can swing by Monument Park on Thursdays from May to October; and in Leominster, the farmstand at Sholan Farms is open daily from mid-July through October with their own locally-grown produce and seasonal fruits. Throughout the region, most farmers’ markets are open from June through October, and most are located right in the center of town, making these locally-grown products easy to find!
While you may be thinking about straight-from-the-garden fresh veggies for your dinner table, keep in mind that many of these markets also offer a variety of other local products, from home-made jams and jellies to freshly-baked bread, handcrafts, cut flowers and plants you can set into your own garden!
Ready When You Are
Most community farmers’ markets vary weekly in the number of growers setting up and, of course, the types of products available.
But if you’re in the mood for something fresh from the field at a day or time when the farmers’ markets aren’t open, head out to one of the local farms! Many have their own full-time farmstands, where you can shop for fresh-picked fruits and vegetables and other products at your convenience.
At Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, for example, the farm store is stocked with freshly-baked cider donuts, apple pies and other goodies, along with local honey. You can even watch the bees at work in a see-through hive!
Bolton Orchards at Routes 110 and 117 in Bolton has local apples available year-round, just-pressed cider and fresh cider donuts on weekends, along with a host of market fruits, vegetables, and in-season flowers and plants. Or visit Carlson Orchards in Harvard throughout the growing season, for tempting treats from blueberries and raspberries to peaches and pumpkins.
With the many farms and orchards scattered throughout Johnny Appleseed Country, you’re sure to find something to please your palate every day of the week!
Click here for our list of Farmers’ Markets or here for farms offering Pick Your Own.
*Information provided by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and subject to change. For up-to-date hours of operation of these markets, visit https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-grownand-fresher or check back here.