By Larry Claflin Jr.
Farmers markets have popped up all over the North Shore the last few years, as the public has focused more on buying fresh from local farms and reducing its carbon footprint.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, in 2009 there were 15 farmers markets in Essex County selling items grown and caught locally.
And, most agree, there's no substitute for the taste of just-picked fruits and vegetables, fish caught from local waters, or farm-fresh eggs.
An array of other farm products can be found at these markets, including baked goods, jams and jellies, maple products, honey, farmstead cheeses, and turkey products, according to the MDAR.
These markets mostly take place from late spring to early fall, but some occur statewide during the late-fall and winter months, like a Sunday market at the Tannery Marketplace in Newburyport, Nov. 10 to Dec. 20.
Friendships, as well as healthy produce, sprout up at these markets, according to Jane Cook, the market master at Topsfield Farmers Market, first opened in 1971.
"We're all quite good friends, the vendors, and we've made a lot of friends with customers. It's like old-home week — the first week of the season," said Cook, who sells her plants, herbs and herb vinegar at the market.