In other parts of the world, whether Europe, Asia, South America or Africa, farmers' markets that sell fresh fruits and vegetables, but also meat, dairy, bread, spices and condiments (and kitchen utensils, clothing, and what not) year round, are nothing unusual. Our local market in Paris, where I grew up, was held three times a week, as is Union Square Market in Manhattan. Here in the US farmers' markets are relatively new, as is the entire foodie movement in general, and markets are mostly held once a week during the growing season. Yet, the whole food movement has taken root quickly and with a vengeance. People now love to know where their food comes from. Beyond the farmer's market a CSA (community supported agriculture), basically a subscription to a portion of the farmer's harvest, is a great way to get to know your local farmers, invest into their crop for the season and reap the benefits. While produce CSAs are the most common, some CSAs also offer flowers, fruit, honey, eggs, even meat. A few farms in the immediate area that do CSAs are Rogowski Farm, High Breeze Farm and Bialas Farms, to mention just a few.
I buy as much as I can locally. Many of our eggs come from a friend who has chickens and sells her surplus during the warm season, but also from High Breeze Farm (although they run out of eggs so quickly I can't get there fast enough much of the time). Honey I buy in 5lb jars from a local potato and onion farmer who is also a beekeeper. Some of my meat comes from a young professional couple who started raising their own chickens and hogs at their farm Hickory Field a few years ago to assure high quality meat, and who dream of making a living at it in the future. I get beef, some pork, as well as maple syrup from High Breeze Farm, and raw milk from Freedom Hill Farm. And until recently we even had our very own cheese maker in the area, Bobolink Dairy, who unfortunately moved away.
Then there are farm-to-table restaurants, which are either farms that also run a restaurant (in our direct area Rogowski's once-a-month Field to Fork Gourmet Supper Club comes to mind), or a restaurant that grows its own produce, and even its own meat, such as the Stone Barns research center in Tarrytown, NY with its fabulous Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant.
And if all of that does not get you in touch intimately enough with your local farmers now there are entire communities built and centered around a working farm, called agrihoods, as the NY Times reported.
Of course there is still your local seasonal farm stand for spur-of-the moment drive-by buying if you don't want to commit to a CSA for the season. But if you would like to try a CSA now, in early spring, is the perfect time to scout out your local farms and find out who offers what.