Twenty-five years ago, farmer's markets were few and far between, but today they are so common, books are being published as guides to seasonal and heretofore unusual produce that people would tend to find only at such markets. Just as interest in specialty food has blossomed, so has interest in fresh and seasonal produce and locally farmed animals. People turn to farmers' markets for fresh, organic, and handmade products.
Almost every large city in America has a farmers' market, as do many smaller cities and towns. When you are traveling, you can rely on farmers' markets to be great places to visit and find unusual and locally made gifts to enjoy or take home.
Farmers' markets are ideal places for cheese makers to sell their wares. Not only can they see how people respond to their cheese, but also they can test prices, showcase new cheeses, and gain a presence in the community, all things that help popularize their cheeses.
If you're looking for new and interesting cheese, then first thing Saturday morning, grab a basket, get yourself over to your nearest farmers' market, and see if any is around. If you don't see any, ask the bread sellers, honey makers, or yogurt makers if they know of anyone making cheese.
From April to September, a special cheese market is held every Friday in Alkmaar, Holland, at the site of a cheese “Weigh House,” a hub for Dutch cheese exports going back more than 400 years. Hundreds of cheese wheels are lined up for everyone to see. Similar markets are held in the towns of Gouda, Bodegraven, and Woerden.
You can also use the farmers' market as a place to pair seasonal foods with cheese. For example, in the summer you can pair ripe stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines with fresh sheep's-milk ricotta, or fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, or a slice of crottin with a fresh, sun-warmed fig.