By Darcie Sosa
The Berkshires is a year-round mecca for local food. We pride ourselves on our ability to grow, prepare, and celebrate food with all. Almost every town, from Williamstown to Sheffield, has a seasonal farmers’ market. Our largest city, Pittsfield, has even made a year-round farmers’ market available. These markets serve as more than just a venue to purchase vegetables. They are a place to gather, a vital center of community life, and a place where people can come to learn and invest in a healthy lifestyle.
The Berkshire’s second largest city, North Adams, holds their farmers’ market outdoors over 20 weeks, from early June through late October. Starting in November of 2016 the market expanded to offer a monthly winter market. The market is dedicated to providing the community with fresh, locally produced foods and supporting area farms and food producers.
Next door to North Adams is the oldest operating market in the Berkshires. This is the Williamstown Market which is located at the base of Spring Street. The market operates on Saturdays from 9 AM – 1 PM now until to October. A mix of local farmers, crafters, and artisans, this market is sure to win you over with its quaint charm. williamstownfarmersmarket.org
One of the most visible farmers’ markets is the Berkshire Farmers’ Market, which takes place in the parking lot of the Berkshire Mall. The season begins on May 5th and ends in November. Market hours are Saturdays 8 AM – 2 PM and Wednesdays 8 AM – 2 PM. Local vendors include Blossoming Acres, Windy Ridge Farm, The Bradley Farm, Cricket Creek Farm, Jaeschke’s Farm, and more.
Also very popular is the Downtown Pittsfield Market. Made accessible to all in the city, this hip market is a collaboration among Alchemy Initiative, Downtown Pittsfield, and the City of Pittsfield. With its catchy motto: “Get Fresh with Us!” The Downtown Pittsfield Farmers’ Market provides a venue for local farmers, food producers, and artisans to bring fresh, locally-grown and produced food, and related products to all members of our community.
New to the scene is the Dalton Public Market, which is held on Fridays from 4 – 7 PM. This market features local produce, baked goods, arts and crafts, live music, and more. You’ll see cars parked along the Main Street around the Dalton CRA, as this new market has caught on fast.
The West Stockbridge Farmers’ Market, only a few years old, has become one of the more frequented farmers’ markets in the county. Operating with the hours of 3 – 7 PM on Thursdays from May 23rd until October 10th, the market is on Merritt Green at Harris Street in the center of the village. Wood-grilled gourmet pizzas make it a destination spot for young families and workers heading home. Local musicians entertain, weekly games and contests are held, and monthly special event markets include local artists, authors, and craftsmen are planned.
In Lenox, a lively market happens every Friday from 12:30 – 4:30 PM, it has been newly located on the St. Ann’s Church property on Main St. This year it will run through September 15th. Hosting farmers, cheese makers, crafters, and artisans.
Now in its 17th year, the Sheffield Farmers’ Market’s theme is “Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy You.” It strives to create a market that will become a regular stop on a shopping trip to bring in provisions for every weekend during the season. They state “our farmers and artisans have meat, eggs, vegetables, salad greens, fruit, bread, desserts, prepared foods, cut flowers, honey, maple syrup, beeswax candles, popcorn, potted plants, and handmade gifts of all kinds.” The market is open from 3 – 6:30 PM now until October 26th in the parking lot of the Old Parish Church on South Main Street.
The Lee Farmers’ Market operates each Saturday, rain or shine, from 10 AM- 2 PM from May 27th until October 7th. This market not only sells locally grown produce and prepared foods but locally created arts and crafts, herbal products, as well as music to enjoy. This market is located at the intersections of Main Street, Housatonic Street, and West Park Street in front of the First Congregational Church on the Town Green.
The Great Barrington Farmers’ Market has been around for 27 years. This market prides itself on being a 100% producer-only market. Located at the Jane Iredale parking lot on Church Street, the Market operates every Saturday from 9 AM – 1 PM, Mother’s Day weekend until the last weekend in October.
As the seasons change from summer to fall, expect that we also celebrate the harvests. We have the annual Lenox Apple Squeeze Festival and what will be the 83rd Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival in Stockbridge. Be sure to also check out the Country Fair at Hancock Shaker Village this fall as well. For more food ideas take some time to visit the Berkshire Grown website and learn more about our local farms, CSAs, pick your own venues, and more. We grow, harvest, and love food in the Berkshires. For us, farm-to-table is not just a movement; it’s our way of life. Come and #tasteberkshires!
Darcie Sosa is a Berkshire marketing/PR professional, who when isn’t working loves being outside hiking with her dogs, going to live music and theatre shows, networking, trying new restaurants and volunteering for local nonprofits. She is an alum of Berkshire Community College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.