Farmers' Markets Meet the Nightlife

(NECN/NBC News: Craig Melvin) - This summer season has brought a new twist on farmers markets: Taking some of the freshest fruits and vegetables around - and adding cocktails. 

A growing number of farmers markets are keeping evening hours.

"I schedule my work around Thursday nights, so I can come here," one shopper said.

Evening farmers' markets have sprung up in more than two dozen cities.

"We wanted to hold an evening farmers market to give access to fresh fruits and vegetables to a whole other group of people," said Melissa Flynn with the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce.

"Other than coming right to the farm you're not going to get them any fresher," Farmer Mick Klug said.

That is because the produce at these markets is often picked just hours before, instead of the day before.

And for the farmers? The night shift also means more green.

"This is a little busier than the daytime ones," one farmer said.

Farmers markets in general have surged in popularity - Up from under 2,000 in 1994 to more than 7,000 in 2011. 

Like all farmers' markets, here it's about connecting customers with farm fresh, but something else happens at farmers' markets.

"It's a communal activity, to come, shop, exchange recipes, meet the farmers," said Marcel Vannooyen.

Vanooyen runs a non-profit called Grow NYC, which oversees 50 markets. His group, too, is now considering night-time markets.

"It's a natural extension that it's gone into the evenings," he said.

Fresh food and fun under the stars is a centuries-old tradition that's now being seen in a whole new light.
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