Farmers Markets, CSAs, Organic Markets, Pick Your Own

Carton of fresh plums at a farmers marketFrom June through October, Farmers Markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) throughout Massachusetts offer locally grown produce and a way for consumers to meet the growers who produce their food. Here are some websites to explore to find markets and CSAs near you, and other resources for making the most of local produce. 

Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way for people living apart from a farm to have an on-farm experience. Members of a CSA buy shares in a farm, and receive a certain amount of fresh, locally grown food every week. At some farms each share member is asked to work on the farm; at others the work requirement is optional or nonexistent. In any case, share members not only get locally grown produce from Massachusetts farmers, but support local farmers by assuring them of a certain level of income for the year. This MassGrown Map shows the locations of CSA farms, along with farm stands, farmers markets, farm stays (B&Bs), greenhouses/nurseries, pick-your-own farms, maple sugar houses, and organic farms.

tomatoes on the vineLocal Harvest
Local Harvest supports small growers and promotes organic agriculture. Type in your zip code and find the Farms, Farmers Markets, or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) nearest to you. This website describes what a CSA is and gives the advantages for farmers and consumers, and explains the shared risk concept.  It also gives definitions of such growing status terms as Certified Organic, Naturally Grown, Transitional, Biodynamic, etc.

Mass Farmers Markets
Mass Farmers Markets partners with farmers, consumers, and communities to enhance and sustain farmers markets in Massachusetts and support the health and vitality of communities. There is a page of farmers markets throughout Massachusetts with their websites, so you can check which vendors are at each market, and which days they operate. There is also a list of farmers markets in the City of Boston showing days and hours of operation.

Boston Community Gardens
The Trustees, the nation’s first and Massachusetts’ largest preservation and conservation nonprofit, owns and manages 56 community gardens totaling 15 acres in eight Boston neighborhoods: Dorchester, East Boston, the Fenway, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Mattapan, Mission Hill, and the South End. These oases of green are tended and cared for by local residents who can grow their own produce and build community. There is a list of The Trustees’ garden locations by neighborhood. Boston Parks & Recreation Department manages seven community gardens in Fenway, Allston, Jamaica Plain, East Boston Mattapan, and Roslindale. In all, there are 200+ community gardens in Boston, managed by various entities, but there is not currently an online listing of them. In 2020 a new garden opened on Geneva Ave. in Dorchester.

Mass Department of Agricultural Resources Farmers Markets
This state ag department website offers a MassGrown Map that shows farm stands, farmers markets, greenhouses/nurseries, pick-your-own farms, maple sugar houses, organic farms, and CSA farms, along with other food resources around the state by region. It has a Produce Availability Calendar which lists fruits and vegetables that are grown in Mass and which months they are available.

Massachusetts Organic Food Guide
This Guide, a project of NOFA/Mass, is a statewide directory of certified organic farms, sustainable farms (farms that practice organic methods but are not formally certified) and CSAs (Consumer Supported Agriculture.) It also shows farm stands and pick-your-own farms. There is also a limited listing of businesses that sell organic food, beverages and products ranging from clothing to cleaning supplies. It also describes key reasons to buy and eat organic.

carrots growing out of the soilNortheast Organic Farming Association — Mass Chapter (NOFA/Mass)
While many of their offerings are not of interest to vegetarians, they offer workshops at locations throughout the state on organic gardening, food preservation methods (fermentation, pickling, canning, drying, freezing, root cellaring,) and how to grow organic greens and root vegetables in winter. The website describes 10 reasons to buy organic, and NOFA’s organic land care program for encouraging organic lawns, gardens, trees, shrubs, parks and athletic fields.

Pick-Your-Own / U-Pick Farms
Find out where and when you can pick your own berries, peaches, apples, and pumpkins on farms that offer pick-your-own crops in Massachusetts. The harvest begins in mid-June with strawberries, then blueberries and raspberries, and peaches in the summer. Move into the Fall with picking apples, and then pumpkins. 

The Food Project
The Food Project has built a national model of engaging young people in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture and producing healthy food. Teens of diverse backgrounds engage in meaningful work and have leadership opportunities. Half of their produce harvest is donated to local shelters. The remainder of the sustainably grown produce is sold at affordable prices through CSAs and farmers markets that are located in neighborhoods that have limited access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown produce.

Farm Fresh Rhode Island Local Food Guide
Farm Fresh RI helps people and businesses find local food. They list farmers markets, farm stands, pick-your-owns, and CSAs as well as restaurants, grocers, and food retailers who make an effort to source fresh seasonal ingredients purchased directly from local farms and producers.