Explore local Farmers Markets
When is the last time you felt good about grocery shopping? I decided to change that by enjoying my Saturday shopping at local farmers markets.
The Fort Smith Farmers Market is bigger and better than ever with lots of vendors bringing their wares to you on Garrison Avenue, right across from the Ferris wheel!
Joe Carr, one of the founding members of the market, says that to ensure quality the venders must only sell what they grow or make themselves. “We want to sell products that haven’t traveled cross country – we want to help our local growers and therefore our local economy,” he said.
The farmers market is not just about vegetables. On any day you may find award winning beef, poultry, lamb, eggs, ham, sausage and bacon. Every day is better with bacon. There are cheeses, breads, granola, jams, jellies, salsa, chutney and hot sauce. Oh I forgot – and tamales and kettlecorn.
You will find local honey as well as homemade noodles, handmade furniture, hand painted signs, tie dye clothes, jewelry and some of the best quality and most reasonable nursery plants in this area.
I like to try different varieties that the grocery stores don’t have – like blue potatoes – and I am now hooked on bok choy, although I pass on the bitter fruit and watch those tiny red peppers. H-O-T!
Strike up a conversation and get to know the vendors. Most are very glad to talk to you about their products. Many of the farmers don’t use pesticides which is important to some of us. It’s a great way to start the weekend right.
Many of the venders now accept credit and debit cards but bring cash, too. I like to bring my own reusable bag. Come and see your friends. Bring your kids and grandkids it’s a great way to get them interested in healthy eating. Who knows, if they pick it out they may eat their vegetables.
Fort Smith Farmers Market is open 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday (weather permitting) with more than 75 vendors selling produce, breads, pies, flowers, trees, honey, fish, soaps, salsa, beef, free range chicken, tamales, organic vegetables, oriental vegetables, grass-fed beef and pork and more. Crafters also sell handmade items at this authentic market, located at Garrison Avenue and North Second Street in the municipal parking lot.
During the peak season, May to September, the market also open on Tuesdays from 7 a.m. to noon. The adjacent Park at West End with its vintage merry-go-round and Ferris wheel is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Rides are $1 or buy a $20 card with four rides free. See timely information on Facebook.
Chaffee Crossing Artisans Market opens May 3. Held adjacent to the Chaffee Barbershop Museum, the market will be offering homegrown produce and handmade items by local farmers, artists and craftsmen. Open 8 a.m. to noon, the market will be a handy option for east Fort Smith and Barling residents. The barbershop and Museum of Chaffee History will also be open. 7313 Terry Street, Chaffee Crossing, Fort Smith.
Van Buren’s Farmers Market is now being held in the parking lot of the Van Buren Public Library, 1409 Main Street, on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Craft vendors join local farmers to offer their wares.
The Alma Farmers Market is a Saturday event as well, held at 533 Fayetteville Avenue and opening at 7 a.m. in a beautiful, wooden pavilion. The Alma Chamber of Commerce says that mostly crafters are selling now but early vegetables will be arriving May 1 and soon veggies, fruits and flowers from the fertile soil of Crawford County will dominate.
Up in the Boston Mountains, the Chester Farmers' Market and Poultry Swap opens its season May 1 and welcomes all vendors. Their friendly rule is “No fees, but donations are appreciated if you have a good morning!” Take exit 34 off I-540 or enjoy a cruise up old Highway 71, the scenic route. The market will meet the first and third Saturday during the month of May from 8-11:30 a.m. in Front Avenue Field, Chester, Ark. They’re on Facebook as Chester Farmers Market and Poultry Swap.