It's rather interesting to see the farm-to-table concept take hold as a major culinary trend; Montgomery County has eaten that way for centuries.
From late spring to early autumn, local farmers, florists, dairymen and crafters spread their wares in quaint settings and offer the fruits of their labors - as well as a host of other tempting goods.
Here are the best of the best:
AMBLER FARMERS MARKET
Hours: Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Reason to Go: The selections here are extensive, with Alice Bakery as a do-not-miss for anyone with a sweet tooth. Be sure to bring your dull kitchen carving knives. A local craftsman can get them gleaming and sharp in no time.
ARDMORE FARMERS MARKET
Hours: Monday - Saturday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. || Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reason to Go: If you've cultivated taste buds yearn for food prepared in the European style, Ardmore's got it. Stoltzfus Bakery makes homemade pretzels in the true Bavarian tradition. It's bakery has even been featured as the "Best Bakery" in Main Line News. DiBruno's offers meats and cheeses that are delizioso.
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. || Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reason to Go: There are two reasons to stop at Dekalb Produce on your commute home from work on those golden summer evenings: One, it's open every day. Two, it's got basketsful of the sweetest, juiciest and freshest ears of white and yellow corn around.
FLOURTOWN FARMERS MARKET
Hours: Thursday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. || Friday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. || Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reason to Go: Ali Rashidian, who runs a local Middle Eastern restaurant in Lafayette Hill, is one of many reasons to seek out this market - and seek you must because it is hidden in a small nook near the local CVS. But Rashidian's products are off-the-charts good, especially the hummus. -- currently undergoing renovations.
GLENSIDE FARMERS MARKET
Hours: Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Reason to Go: Amid the first-rate meats, produce and dairy, it's possible here to buy a skein of yarn spun from baby-soft alpaca fur. On the culinary side, try one of Humpty's Dumplings, which come in flavors such as cheesesteak, BBQ chicken and even sweet apple pie.
HORSHAM FARMERS MARKET
Hours: Sundays from June 12 - November 6: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Closed on July 3.
Reason to Go: There's something for everyone, from farm fresh eggs to specialty nut butters. After you stock up on some of the juiciest local produce, enjoy a delicious French toast casserole egg roll from Madi's On a Roll.
LANSDALE FARMERS MARKET
Hours: Saturdays from May 14 - November 19 || No Dogs: 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. || All Welcome: 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Reason to Go: Joining the meats, cheeses, wine, baked goods, olive oil, maple syrup, spices, fair trade coffee, prepared foods and nursery stock is the Mushroom Guy, your go-to resource for fresh Shitakes, Chanterelles and Portobellos. A rotation of performers regularly presents live entertainment.
LEE'S PRODUCE MARKET
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reason to Go: Open year-round, Lee's Produce offers more than just local produce. In addition to the fresh fruit cut daily, you'll find locally made juice, sauces and prepared meals that will be a perfect addition to your next cookout.
MAPLE ACRES FARM AND MARKET
Hours: Monday - Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. || Wednesday - Friday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. || Saturday - Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reason to Go: Wander the property for farm-fresh produce and meat, but be prepared to be entranced by the unique pottery, outdoor furniture, statues, hummingbird feeders, and a huge selection of garden decorations. In the fall, as our blog reported, Maple Acres supplies live turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Hours: Milk & Ice Cream Store: Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. || Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. || Bloomin' Market (Plant Yard): Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. || Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Reason to Go: Home-made specialties at Merrymead include some harder-to-find specialties like cheese curds and shoo-fly pie. While browsing the farm-fresh produce, grab a freshly dipped ice cream cone. The flavors are plentiful and, as we reported in a recent blog, the production starts with the cows that live just behind the store.
UPPER MERION FARMERS MARKET
King of Prussia
Hours: Saturdays from May 14 to November 19: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Reason to Go: The meats sold here by Livengood Family Farm in Lancaster include ground sirloin made only from grass-fed cattle. The resulting burgers are outstanding. Upper Merion Farmers Market often features pets for adoption from local animal shelters, lending an "aww" factor that is popular with kids.
WEST NORRITON FARMERS MARKET
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Reason to Go: One of the best kept secrets in Norristown. Home chefs looking for unusual cuts of meat can find whatever specialty items they may need here, including tongue, tripe, heart, ear and even a whole pig head. Known for its international and ethnic variety including unique pastries, Jamaican spice rubs, wasabi seaweed snacks and Jarritos (a jazzy Mexican fruit soda).
*Ardmore Farmers Market photos credit B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia