The West Side Market isn't a farmers market. They get their fruit from the same place that the grocery stores do and I think the groceries stores probably get first pick. Generally, the conventional wisdom is that the (plentiful) good stuff available at the West Side market is to be found inside. That's basically the meat and prepared foods area as opposed to outside where the fruit and vegetable vendors are. I hear that Baskteria is supposed to be the exception, where local produce is available and the quality is a little higher.
During its peak, the Shaker Square farmers market has 4 long rows of vendors, only a quarter of which are crafters. There are multiple pork, chicken and beef vendors. You can get lamb, veal and bison. There's heritage beef, pork and chicken. I pay less attention to the vegetables and fruits, but there certainly is a lot of it. In addition, there are local grains and flours, awarding winning goat cheese, cows milk cheese, a very highly regarded mushroom vendor, honey, plants and flowers and... There's a lot of stuff. Frankly, if it grows on a farm in Northern Ohio then there's probably a farmer hawking it here. It may not match up to the Ferry Building farmers market in San Francisco but I can't believe there are many better markets in the Midwest.
There's a collective of Amish that has dairy, heritage pork, baked goods and more. New Creations farm has excellent breakfast sausage and other heritage pork and heritage beef products. Jenny's Sweets has fantastic cakes, banana pudding and cheesecakes (the quality of the cakes is better if you buy them whole). Cowboy George has great salsa and hot sauce.
North Union Farmers Market runs a total of seven markets including the Shaker Square market. The Shaker Square market is by far the largest and most diverse. It's also the only one that's open year round.
Here's a list I've been keeping of local farmers markets:
This list is outdated so information I have listed about market hours should be confirmed. Some entries are several years old and I haven't been adding to it lately. It seems like new farmers markets are popping up all the time so I have a lot of catching up to do, but I've still got 23 markets listed. Minus any that have closed of course. You can compare my list to the info from Local Harvest and the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
To the best of my knowledge, only three of these markets are open year round. Coit Road is one of the larger area markets and I think it will be open a couple days a week through the winter. They'll have dairy, apples, some baked goods (including a nice bean pie) but I'm not sure how much they have in the way of meat. They also have a spice vendor. He sells in convenient, small quantities. His prices are good and he seems to be very knowledgeable.
Kamm's Corners will be open one week a month during the Winter.
It's about time for many of these markets to go into hibernation but if you hurry you can still check out many of them. The Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy has a market in Peninsula. I've been and it seems to be moderately large.
Would you be interested in a CSA?
Maybe we had different impressions of the Shaker Square market because I wrote my post seven years later than yours.
I'm not sure there's much point in continuing this thread but since it's already been pulled up from the deep archives...
In addition to the Shaker Square, Kamm's Corners and Coit Road markets, I just read that the Tremont farmers market will also be open throughout the winter. It'll be at Pilgrim Church on Tuesdays from 4-7pm. I'm mostly interested in prepared foods and I noticed two interesting vendors. Ms. Julie's kitchen will have "waffle sandwiches" and "vegan specialties." Gaelic Imports will have vegetarian, chicken and ? pasties, bakewell tarts, soda bread, soda bread scones and other assorted UK treats.