Top Farmer’s Markets in Southwest Ohio

Aug 12, 2021

I have a passion for exploring local agriculture when I travel, and that passion started at home here in Ohio. Today I share local farmer’s markets to visit in Southwest Ohio, my favorite stops between Dayton and Cincinnati. Whether on a farm, side of the road, or smack dab in the city, these places are full of local quality and charm. 

When I think about summers in Ohio, the first thing that comes to mind is corn. Yeah, I know. It may not seem that exciting to most. But when I see a cornfield, it’s like home. I grew up surrounded by these fields, and I can’t help but think they are beautiful. The way an orangey sun hits the slightly grassy tops at sunrise or sunset, or how the precise corn lines faintly shift in the breeze…it’s all simply breathtaking. If you don’t believe me, you’ve probably never watched Field of Dreams. And if you’ve never watched Field of Dreams, you’ll want to get on that.

Cornfields have always provided a marker of sorts for the progression of summer. For instance, by the end of May, the fields fill with tiny baby stalks, a signal to the start of summer. By mid-June, you’re ankle-deep in green. It’s around this time you’ll hear us local folks making bets on whether the fields will make it to “knee-high by the 4th of July,” which, by the way, they almost always do. By August, the corn is well over your head, and for kids, the dread of returning to school soon kicks in. Soaking up summers in the midwest means appreciating those cornfields. And you don’t wish the stalks to grow any quicker.

Now that I’m an adult, the fields aren’t signaling the end or beginning of summer break, but time in general, which seems to move a little quicker every year. Here we are in August, and as fast as the month goes, it’s as sweet as a latticed fruit pie. It’s definitely my favorite month at the farmer’s markets. All that colorful produce, at its peak and abundance, is a feast for the eyes.

Rows of sun-ripened watermelon, corn, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers… Baskets of jewel-toned cherries and berries… Bouquets of candy-colored wildflowers, sunflowers, and zinnias…

Some of the love I share for Ohio’s agriculture is a bit of nostalgia, I presume. I grew up around farms and homegrown gardens. (Legend is I’d gnaw on green onions straight from the ground before I had all my baby teeth.) Summers were spent shucking, peeling, slicing, crunching. Whatever our family gardens lacked, the local farms made up for it. I knew which familiar fields we’d be visiting by July for a bagful of freshly picked sweet corn, peaches, and watermelon. At least every other week, we’d be driving up a dirt road towards a barn or stand holding our fresh picks.

And now, every summer, I return to these familiar farms and downtown markets between Cincinnati and Dayton, seeking out the freshest bounty Ohio’s soil will grow. Some have changed a bit, dressing themselves up over the years. Others have remained unchanged. Regardless, the list of quality suppliers only grows. Here are my favorite farmer’s markets in southwest Ohio and the highlights that keep me coming back!

Findlay Market, Cincinnati

The Highlights: Downtown charm + local flower growers + Blue Oven Bakery’s amazingly soft and buttery pretzels

Station Road Farm, West Chester

The Highlights: A wide variety of produce – flavorful tomatoes, fresh string beans, red potatoes, sweet vadalias, peppers, peaches…

Garver Farm, Monroe

The Highlights: Fresh sweet corn + the juciest watermelon

The Black Barn, Lebanon

The Highlights: The charming shops of downtown Lebanon nearby + a full sunflower field by the end of summer

Hidden Valley Orchards, Lebanon

The Highlights: Beautiful grounds + farm fresh lunch + ice cream + taprooms + yard games…

2nd Street Market, Dayton

The Highlights: A charming open-air setting + fresh bouquets from The Flower Man + Sweet P’s ice pops + single origin craft chocolates from Peace on Fifth

Oakwood Farmer’s Market, Oakwood

The Highlights: That small community feel + unique offerings like Ordi Narie Fare’s Strawberry Chip granola

Peiffer Farm, Yellow Springs

The Highlights: A wide variety of produce and artisan goods + local honey + the ultra-hip downtown Yellow Springs close by

Young’s Jersey Dairy, Yellow Springs

The Highlights: Fresh farmstead cheese and homemade ice cream made right on the farm + miniature golf + some pretty entertaining goat-watching…

August is the perfect time to visit your local farmer’s market. The end of summer often provides a kaleidoscope of fresh meal-planning options, be it for shaded picnic lunches or light dinners on the patio that satisfy during the sweltering days of summer.  If you’re near the Cincinnati/Dayton region of Ohio, give these markets a visit!

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