'Tis the season for fresh produce, and the region has dozens of shopping options Downtown and in the suburbs.

Farmers markets continue to grow in size and popularity, thanks to consumers' ongoing interest in fresh food. But such venues are more than an afternoon artisan amble. These markets also provide affordable access to nutritious produce for Central Ohio families, including Downtown residents who lack access to a full grocery store.

Richard Hicks, director of the Office of Environmental Protection and Sustainability at Columbus Public Health, said markets such as the produce-only event his agency holds each summer serve a dual purpose. They are part of the county's broader Local Food Action Plan, which aims to make farmers markets more accessible and plentiful and increase local farm production. And by accepting public assistance programs (Women, Infants and Children; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; and Veggie SNAPS), they make produce more accessible to families in need. “Inner-city markets like ours provide opportunities to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables in a way that these communities may not have otherwise, or have in the number other communities might,” Hicks said.

Farmers markets also provide an easy way for parents to teach kids about where food comes from and the value of a healthful diet. “What we've found is that quite a significant number of kids don't understand where their food comes from or what some of those [fruits or vegetables] even were,” Hicks said. “The ability to come down and see what they'll be eating later, ask questions and be taught by a parent or farmer why they're important for good health and a growing body helps stimulate curiosity and takes away the intimidation.”

Jaime Moore, market manager of the popular year-round Worthington Farmers Market, agreed. “Encouraging kids to try healthy produce is not unlike the idea that when the kid falls, they look to the parent for the response. When we're fine, they're fine. It's very much the same with food. So we provide a lot of ops to sample things around the market, some taste education opportunities and our kids' Market Sprouts program. We're trying to make the market a more well-rounded opportunity for people to engage in healthy eating, healthy lifestyle and education.”

Here's a sampling of Central Ohio's farmers markets, as well as some permanent freestanding markets that specialize in locally made items. Note that many farmers markets are not held July 3-4 or during community events. Some locations accept WIC, SNAP and Veggie SNAPS. Dates and times are subject to change. Always verify schedules and other details before you go.

Bexley

4-7 p.m. Thursdays, May 18 through late October; 2111 E. Main St.

Flowers, baked goods, produce, meats, eggs, honey and more are typically available.

Canal Winchester

9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May 27 to Sept. 30 (except July 29 and Sept. 2); downtown business district

Since 1998, this market has offered a broad selection of produce, baked goods, herbs, locally made goods and services.

Clintonville

9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, April 29 to Nov. 18; North High Street between Orchard Lane and West Dunedin Road

One of Central Ohio's largest and most popular markets is celebrating its 15th anniversary. The Kids Garden Club will return this year, along with performances, special events and family activities. About 70 vendors offer a wide selection of items from food to décor.

Columbus Public Health

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 27, Aug. 3 and Aug. 10; front lawn of 240 Parsons Ave. (Downtown)

The produce-only market will return for its 11th summer, with 16 to 18 farmers.

Delaware

3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, May 27 to Oct. 28; shady side of Sandusky Street

Vendors offer seasonal fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, plants, crafts, soap and more.

Dublin

3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, May through late September; parking lot of Oakland Nursery, 4261 W. Dublin-Granville Road

Fresh produce is augmented with offerings ranging from kettle corn to locally made pasta sauces.

Easton

4-7 p.m. Thursdays, July 6 to Aug. 10, Easton Town Square

Vendors offer fruits, vegetables, flowers, meats, cheeses and specialty foods. Entertainment includes local musicians and children's activities as well as the nearby splash pad. This year's market is part of a new series, Easton's Way to Wellness.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, June 7 to Sept. 6; outside Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 777 E. Broad St.

Seasonal produce, fresh dairy products, baked goods and meats are complemented by local food trucks.

Franklinton Farm Stand

4-7 p.m. Tuesdays, May through October; 1003 W. Town St.

This produce stall features seasonal fruits and vegetables grown in Franklinton Gardens. Delivery is available for neighborhood residents.

Grandview Heights

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, July 1 to Oct. 28; Grandview Avenue next to the post office

The market, in its 12th season, is run by the Pearl Alley Growers' Association and offers a variety of seasonal and local items.

Granville

8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May 6 to Oct. 28; along North Main Street

This series attracts more than 60 farmers, bakers and specialty food producers. Starting June 13, a second market runs Tuesdays through Sept. 26 in the parking lot of Ross's Granville Market, 484 S. Main St.

Grove City

8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May 20 to Sept. 9; Grove City Town Center, at Park Street and Broadway

Shoppers can purchase produce, meats, herbs and more.

Hilliard

4-7 p.m. Tuesdays, May 30 to Sept. 12; parking lot of Hilliard United Methodist Church, 5445 Scioto Darby Road

Vendors include fruit, vegetable and dairy farmers, bakers, florists and others.

Jefferson Township

6-9 p.m. one Saturday per month, June through August (dates TBD); Jefferson Community Park, 7494 Clark State Road

The market includes farmers, bakers and more. It coincides with a community event each month, such as a hog roast or ice cream social.

Johnstown

9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, June 10 to Sept. 16; downtown square

In addition to fresh produce, handmade crafts usually are available.

Lancaster

8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May to October; Government Services parking lot, 239 W. Main St.

Available items span everything from produce and flowers to artisan crafts, soaps and lotions.

Merion Village

5-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 1 to Sept. 28; corner of East Gates Street and Parsons Avenue, next to Tatoheads Public House

The Merion Village event has a new time and location for its fourth season. A laid-back atmosphere encourages shoppers to linger for entertainment or a picnic.

Nationwide

11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursdays, July 6 to Oct. 26; Battelle Plaza, 375 N. Front St. (Arena District)

The Pearl Alley Growers' Association organizes this cash-only market. It is relatively small but includes fresh produce, sweet treats, flowers, honey and beeswax products, and locally made jams and jellies.

Nationwide Children's Hospital

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, Aug. 29, Sept. 12 and Sept. 26; Livingston Park, 732 E. Livingston Ave.

The fresh produce-focused market from Nationwide Children's' Hospital makes healthful food and nutrition education activities available to area residents, employees and visitors.

New Albany

4-7 p.m. Thursdays, June 22 to Sept. 7; Market Square

More than 50 merchants offer locally grown and sourced produce, cheeses and meats, accompanied by local food trucks.

Pataskala

4-7 p.m. Fridays, June 2 to Sept. 1; Veteran's Green, Front and Main streets

The market features items that are grown or made in Ohio.

Pearl Market

10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, June 2 to Oct. 13; Pearl and Lynn alleys (Downtown)

A wide variety of seasonal produce, food and handmade merchandise is available. The market is popular with Downtown office workers.

Pickerington

4-7 p.m. Thursdays, June 1 to Sept. 28; 89 N. Center St.

Now in its fifth season, the market showcases more than 50 vendors.

Plain City

4:30-7 p.m. July 4 during the Independence Day celebration, then Thursdays, July 6 to Oct. 5; Chillicothe and Main streets

Customers can peruse a selection of produce, baked goods, artisan cheeses and hot sandwiches.

Powell

9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May 13 to Oct. 28; Liberty Square shopping plaza, 240 N. Liberty St.

This market features only homemade, home-baked or homegrown items.

Reynoldsburg

3-6 p.m. Thursdays, June 15 to Sept. 7; Huber Park, 1520 Davidson Drive

This year is the 10th for the farmers market, which offers items such as produce, meats, jellies and crafts. The city has an indoor winter market as well.

Sunbury

9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May 20 to Oct. 14; Sunbury Square

Since 2005, the event has offered homegrown and handmade items including produce, gluten-free baked goods, jellies and grass-fed beef.

Union County

8-11 a.m. Saturdays, May 13 to Oct. 14; Partners Park, 125 E. Sixth St., Marysville

3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays, May 11 to Oct. 12; Richwood North Union Public Library parking lot, 4 E. Ottawa St., Richwood

Vendors from Union and adjacent counties sell goods that are locally made, grown, raised or baked.

Upper Arlington

3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, May 17 to Sept. 27; Upper Arlington Senior Center, 1945 Ridgeview Road

Fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and dairy products are among the regular offerings.

Uptown Westerville

3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, May 3 to Oct. 25; North State and East Home streets

Weekly staples at this market, which started in 2006, include homegrown produce and homemade treats, breads and more.

Worthington

9 a.m. to noon Saturdays; location varies

This rare year-round weekly market is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It operates outdoors along North High Street from May to October, then moves indoors to the Shops at Worthington Place. One of the largest in Central Ohio, the market hosts more than 70 vendors each week who sell items including produce, honey and baked goods. Children's activities and entertainment lend a lively, family-friendly street festival feel.

Permanent Freestanding Markets

Bexley Natural Market

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays year-round; 508 N. Cassady Ave.

This cooperative grocery store sells local, organically grown products, bulk herbs, vitamins and supplements among its regular stock.

Delaware County Community Market

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays year-round; 222 E. William St., Delaware

The Delaware County Community Market Corp. is a member-owned nonprofit organization. Offerings include local produce and a large prepared foods area.

Doran's Farm Market

Open May to October; 5462 Babbitt Road, New Albany

Fresh produce and seasonal offerings such as cider and pumpkins make this a local favorite.

Jacquemin Farms

Open June to October; 7437 Hyland-Croy Road, Plain City

Operating days and hours vary depending on which crops and pick-your-own options are in season. The farm, founded in 1987, also hosts fall family activities.

Miller's Country Gardens

Open April to October; 2488 State Route 37 W., Delaware

This family farm, in business since 1954, offers fresh-picked seasonal produce, annual and perennial plants and homemade desserts.

North Market

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays year-round; 59 Spruce St. (Downtown)

Columbus' premier indoor market features produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, prepared foods and more. It's notable for its selection, which includes everything from French macarons at Pistacia Vera to the inventive produce-filled salads of Little Eater.

Schacht Farm Market

Open September and October; 5950 Shannon Road, Canal Winchester

The business has been offering locally grown fall produce, hay bales and pick-your-own options since 1981.

Smith Farm Market

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays year-round; 3341 Winchester Pike, Columbus. A second location, 380 Agler Road, Gahanna, operates from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Sweet corn is Smith Farm Market's specialty, but all sorts of produce, pick-your-own options and seasonal selections and goods are abundant.

Yutzy's Farm Market

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays year-round; 6010 Converse Huff Road, Plain City

The market offers farm-grown produce, pick-your-own strawberries, bulk foods (including spices and baking supplies) and deli meats and cheeses from Holmes County.