The "eat local" movement has found its locus in a gigantic parking lot in the Upper Kirby area, where vendors set up stalls early every Saturday morning, offering locally grown vegetables, organic meat, fresh fish, eggs and other farm-to-market products. Strike up a conversation with the vendors, who usually are in the same location every weekend. The ever-expanding operation is overseen by Urban Harvest, a non-profit organization that believes fruit, vegetable and habitat gardens improve everyone's quality of life. Open 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 3000 Richmond, enter via Eastside to parking lot behind the Richmond office building.
Now in its second incarnation under the Urban Harvest umbrella, the Highland Village Farmers Market brings a community aspect to the retail center. Taking a cue from Europe's fresh air markets, this venture eschews the granola vibe of other markets. The structure is an elegant design by Los Angeles architects Osborne and Vane and Richard Altuna; gone are the unsightly, awkward tents. Diehard organic eaters arrive early on Sundays (the market opens at 9 a.m.), and high-end foodies show their faces closer to 11 for chef-driven brunches. Open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2720 Suffolk Dr.
The retail arm of celeb chef Monica Pope's foodie base, the Midtown Farmers Market, located adjacent to her t'afia eatery, offers customers more options in prepared foods - think Central Market's "Market on the Go" but more personalized. The experience is equal parts trendy and welcoming. Pope has thrown open the doors to her restaurant, offering hot breakfast items for the taking. Better yet, Pope is always on the scene to offer suggestions on how to perfectly cook that kale and sauté your new bounty of squash. The Green Plum Cooking School is another free perk, but be sure to RSVP.
Open 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The market is closed from June 1st to Aug. 31.
This weekday farmers market (Tuesday afternoons, 3:30 to 7) is a great reason to visit the lush Rice University campus. There's your standard produce fair, but also hand-cured bacon, locally-produced mustards, goat milk yogurt and organic baby food. Visit on Saturday mornings for cooking demos and live music that keep the shoppers entertained. Why not take your organic loot across Main Street and indulge in a weekday picnic at Hermann Park?
The market at City Hall has been hailed as a stunning success, bringing throngs of office workers to the daylight of Hermann Square Plaza, where grocers with local organic produce line one side of the reflection pool and eateries offering ready-made lunches line the other. Radical Eats keeps long lines satisfied with their breakfast and black bean tamales, while Sinfull Bakery next door satisfies the sweet tooth and Green Plum Kitchen vends fresh pre-packaged lunches. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday, and closed from June until the first Wednesday in September, as well as between the third Wednesday in December and first Wednesday in February.
The central plaza of the West Side's CITYCENTRE hosts a farmers market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adding to the range of locally-grown fruits and veggies is a slew of plants, baked goods, meats and cheeses. The adjacent Ruggles Green advises the district on the market's offerings, assuring that the goods are entirely eco-fabulous. Additional environmentally-minded programming is in the works.
Exotic teas, vitamins, coffee and spices round out the selection of grass-fed natural meats and organic produce at this enclosed indoor market. Every Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., come to Georgia's to stock up on cheeses from Way Back When Dairy, greens from The Last Organic Outpost and succulent salad toppings from Spiral Sprouts of Houston. The vendors pride themselves on their approachability, so bring along your composting and organic cooking quandries.