Somerville used to suffer the slurs of uppity residents in neighboring communities. But increasingly it’s being hailed as the Brooklyn of Massachusetts and one of the hottest ‘hoods around, especially for foodies. With artsy coffee houses, a popular ice cream parlor, donut shop, and restaurants that are turning out some of the best meals in the Boston area, Union Square is a bright and rising star. But nothing sparks the ardor of the foodie community more than a strong farmers’ market. Somerville has several. The Union Square Farmers’ Market is a weekly ritual for many residents. It has a super friendly atmosphere and a strong sense of neighborhood pride.
On Saturday mornings from early May through the 3rd week of November, the central plaza in Union Square fills with about 30 vendors and many shoppers who are eager to purchase the locally grown or produced fare. Live music adds to the festive vibe.
This market focuses on edible goods either grown on Massachusetts farms or produced locally. As as long as the market’s managers remain true to that mission, you’ll find plenty of fresh produce, baked goods, meats and seafood, cheeses, and specialty items (mostly organic, but not all), though none of the crafts or other trinkets.
Handmade tamales and salsas sell quickly at the stand Tex Mex Eats. A grower displays oyster mushrooms, shitakes, and lion’s mane mushrooms like large jewels in a Tiffany window. The facial cream and soaps made with mushrooms are said to be good for the skin.
Chase Hill Farm encourages samples of organic cheeses which include a creamy Camenbert and a tangy tomme de Normande. At Dan’s Brick Oven Breads, a young girl points to her favorite sourdough loaf which her mother then adds to their basket. Taza, the Somerville-based chocolate factory, offers pieces of their not-overly-sweet chocolates. In the chili pepper version, the spiciness kicks in about 30 seconds after swallowing a smooth dark morsel.
New Englanders endured a long and record-breaking winter, and so they’re downright giddy as they taste the seasonal fruits at Kimball’s fruit stand. Steve, wrapped in a feathery, multicolored boa, totes a bag of strawberries to an outdoor café table where a few friends join him. They drop the red globes into glasses bubbling with champagne.
The Union Square Farmers’ Market is an energetic celebration of Massachusetts farms, delicious food, and summertime dished up by the scoop and the quart. Once the new T station opens, it’s likely to draw shoppers from a wider radius. But hopefully it won’t lose any of the friendly spirit or the clarity of its mission.
Union Square Farmers’ Market is located at Union Square Plaza, Somerville, MA 02143. It’s open Saturday mornings from 9 am-1 pm, from early May through mid November.