10. Old MacDonald’s Farmers’ Market
Old MacDonald’s is an enclosed, permanent farmers’ market whose fame is growing amongst farmers’ market fans by nothing but word of mouth. Located out in the West-side ‘burbs, Old Mac’s is a handy alternative to the grocery store: whereas most farmers’ markets are open during a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it time window on weekends only, Old Macdonald’s is open during business hours, 7 days a week. This quickly-growing grocery innovation stocks items from local growers right here in Silicon Valley. It’s been compared to Whole Foods by many – it even boasts a peanut butter machine – but the prices are more within reach for the average Safeway shopper.
Milpitas is an unlikely spot for a farmers’ market, but there it is, every Sunday at 8 in the parking lot of the India Community Center. The Milpitas market is super-local: fresh eggs and a wide range of traditional Asian foods make up this smaller but well-loved market that’s a staple of the surrounding community.
8. Los Gatos
The Los Gatos Farmers’ Market features mostly standard farmers’ market fare, but, in tony Los Gatos fashion, it might be the only one in the area with an oyster bar. In its central, picturesque location at the town square, The LG Market can get crowded, but if you go, expect crepes, a lot of dogs to pet, and sometimes live music.
7. Mountain View
15 years strong, the award-winning Mountain View Farmers’ Market is a well-respected alternative to San Jose’s more famous downtown market, and its Caltrain parking lot location makes an easy commute for those looking to escape their usual stomping grounds for a little while. Jams and jellies, dates, and smoked sausage have patrons convinced that Mountain View’s market ranks next to San Francisco’s famously attractive (but also famously overpriced) Ferry Building Farmers’ Market as world-class example of fresh California agriculture.
6. Alum Rock
This far-afield farmers’ market is surprisingly well-loved among enthusiasts. The Alum Rock market, though located out of the way on the East side in a high school parking lot, is worth the drive: it specializes in Asian veggies and fresh fish; a reflection of the community it serves. Also stay on the lookout for Beckmann’s bread, some fresh-squeezed OJ and the always-enticing Kettle Korn stand.
Japantown’s Farmers’ Market is notoriously small (only a block or so long), but has a contingent of devoted returning customers. Local residents love the Japantown Farmers’ Market for operating as sort of a Farmers’ Market 101, offering old standbys like Kettle Korn, fresh flowers, and San Jose’s ever-present hummus vendor.
4. Palo Alto
Palo Alto’s ambitious farmers’ market seeks to educate and enlighten, operating on an overwhelming sense of responsibility to their patrons and their community. PAFM strives to make everything they offer the triple-whammy of affordable, tasty, and healthy as possible, and donates their profits to local charities at the end of season. The Palo Alto Farmers’ Market has been in business since the early ‘80s, putting it way ahead of the locavore movement.
3. Cambrian Park
Instead of opening early on Sunday mornings, when only old folks are awake, Cambrian Park operates on a young professional’s schedule—weekday afternoons, ready for the hordes of trendy foodies that usually prefer to sleep in on the weekends. On Wednesdays after work, shoppers descend on Cambrian Park Plaza’s parking lot to pick up some fresh fruit and veg, and to nosh on offerings from a range of ready-made vendors: Thai, Indian, and Mexican treats can all made-to-order by vendors if you just can’t wait to get your groceries home.
2. Santa Clara
Only a short stroll from the SCU campus, the Santa Clara Farmers’ Market is a great way for cash-strapped students to offset the mac and cheese diet. On any given weekend, a Santa Clara Farmers’ Market shopper can encounter tamales, samosas, and spring rolls, not to mention effortless round-the-corner parking.
The Campbell Farmers’ Market has been shutting down Campbell Avenue on Sunday mornings in between 9 and 1 for more years than many of us can remember. A farmers’ market with a flawless reputation, the Campbell Farmers’ Market adds a touch of cosmopolitan class to otherwise suburban Campbell by offering locally grown goodies, coffee, and trendy fusion food to snack on while shopping.