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    A Field Guide to Farmers’ Market Tomatoes

    Hollister Family Farm tomatoes
    Tomato selection from Hollister Family Farm

    This week, we bring you a primer on the abundance and variety of farmers’ market tomatoes, complete with photos and eating suggestions. It’s all part of our cunning plan to inspire creative entries into the 4th Annual Salsa Contest that takes place on Monday at the Durham Farmers’ Market (see details below)!

    Let’s warm up with a classic: the Roma tomato, a plum tomato perfect for homemade spaghetti sauces:

    Vernon Family Farm Romas
    Romas from Vernon Family Farm

    For a lower-acidity tomato, try either the Great White or Pineapple Tomato, like these from Heron Pond Farm:

    Heron Pond Farm Pineapple Tomatoes
    Heron Pond Farm tomatoes

    Both have the mild, tropical fruit taste of pineapple, guava and melon, and are great slicing tomatoes because of their size and how they hold together. Heron Pond carries other heirloom varieties such as Rose, Persimmon and Valencia. Chelsea MacDonald (who runs the Heron Pond market booth in Exeter) recommends using these tomatoes in gazpacho with cucumbers, onion, basil and olive oil, or in a fresh Caprese salad.

    Chelsea also describes this easy tomato jam recipe: Start with 5 lbs of heirloom tomatoes, chopped and seeded. Add 3 quarters of a cup of sugar to the tomatoes and let sit in a medium sized pot for 10 minutes, then bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened, approximately 1 hour. This yields about 2 and a half cups of tomato jam. Use it like ketchup and spread on sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs. It has a great flavor and lasts for about one week in the fridge, or longer if canned.

    Stout Oak Farm tomatoes
    Cherry tomato collection from Stout Oak Farm

    Stout Oak Farm offers a delightful assortment of cherry tomatoes, perfect to slice in half and show off their colors in salads and pasta dishes. The elongated cherry tomatoes are called Green Tigers and have a bright lime green interior. Sweet-tasting Pink and Purple Bumblebees are red with colorful striping. Wouldn’t you like a salad with Pink Bumblebees and Green Tigers?

    McKenzie's Farm Favoritas
    McKenzie’s Farm Favoritas

    Favorita is another type of cherry tomato, and McKenzie’s Farm favors it for their own homemade pasta sauce: toss the cherry tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper, with a couple of cloves of garlic. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. When still hot, puree the tomatoes and garlic with an emulsion blender or food processor. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, more salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and a little Parmesan cheese. Pour over zucchini noodles or pasta for a delicious market meal.

    Sounds like a good match to Leaven’s rosemary ciabatta! Or if you’d rather leave the cooking to others, Figtree Kitchen makes a lovely roasted tomato feta scone.

    Brandmoore Farm Indigo Apple Tomato
    Indigo Apple tomato from Brandmoore Farm

    Brandmoore Farm’s black Indigo Apple tomato has a deep purple, near black coloration that is high in anti-oxidant. They also carry a Striped German, which is yellow with a beautifully marbled interior, and the dense and juicy Cherokee Purple beefsteak style tomato. Phil and Becky say the best way to enjoy these are in a tomato sandwich with mayo – perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

    New Roots tomatoes
    New Roots Farm varieties

    Rene Cantara of New Roots Farm specializes in tomatoes. She offers an array of flavors and textures including: Red Beefsteak, Sunkist (a hybrid tomato created at UNH), Cherokee Green, Blue Beauty, Black Krim, and a yellow variety called Flame.

    Rene eats tomatoes with sliced cucumber and a little bit of apple cider vinegar. Celeste Gingrass, from Forty-Five Market Street Bakery enjoys the Black Krim sliced on top of a pumpernickel bagel with chive cream cheese and smoked salmon!

    Last, but never least, are yellow, Sungold cherry tomatoes – a market favorite because of their sweet and tangy flavor. They are joined here by Sweet 100’s from the Vernon Family Farm:

    Vernon Family Farm Sungolds
    Vernon Family Farm salsa ingredients

    Note the peppers in the foreground, just waiting to be combined into salsa and entered into Monday’s Salsa Contest:

    Anyone can enter their homemade salsa, just bring it over to the Durham Farmers’ Market for tasting – early arrivals have the best chance at the most votes, and voting will continue throughout the market day (from 2:15-6pm). The winner gets bragging rights and a gift basket full of market goodies. Check in at the market booth on Monday to participate.

    For even more tomato recipes, check out the latest edition of Edible Seacoast Magazine.

    . . .

    Have a great week & we’ll see you at market.

    August 25th, 2015

    Squash, Cauliflower and Sweet Cantaloupe – great on the grill

    Organic squash from Stout Oak Farm
    Organic squash selection from Stout Oak Farm at the Exeter Farmers’ Market

    The variety of fresh produce at the farmers’ market is at it’s summer height! Squash abounds, in pattypan, summer and zucchini – just to name a few.

    Charlie Reed of Stone Wall Farm/Osprey Cove says that a lot of folks ask him the best way to cook squash:

    “We tell them to slice it up into a bowl and pour in enough olive oil to coat it on all sides.” Next he says, lay it on the grill and sprinkle Old Bay seasoning and sea salt, “Cook until golden brown on both sides and it is incredible!”

    Cauliflower from Mildred's Drumlin Farm
    Cauliflower fresh picked from Zach’s Farm at the Durham Farmers’ Market

    The same can be done with most veggies from the market, including cauliflower. Cut the entire head into thick slices for grilling and experiment with seasonings. Some prefer to pre-cook the slices a bit to soften up the cauliflower more, but for those who like an al dente veggie, cut-season-and grill away.

    Mildred's Drumlin Farm Cantaloupe
    Sweet cantaloupe from the fields of Mildred’s Drumlin Farm at the Durham Farmers’ Market

    How about grilling some cantaloupe, too? Cut into wedges or cubed on skewers, grilling cantaloupe is a fun twist on dessert. Dip the pieces in honey and grill on high heat for 1-2 minutes, then serve over ice cream. What a great way to finish a grilled summer farm to table meal!

    Heron Pond Farm Corn at the Portsmouth Farmers' Market
    And of course, it’s still corn season – proved by these fine examples from Heron Pond Farm at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market

    . . .
    Have a great week & we’ll see you at market.

    August 18th, 2015

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    All four SGA farmers' markets now accept SNAP/EBT, thanks to a program by Seacoast Eat Local.

    Check out the details on their website, including a $10 Market Match and $20 month-end Close the Gap bonus!


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