While farmers' markets are a colourful addition to urban shopping, they are periodic, relatively expensive and provide for a very limited range of consumer requirements. In fact, they are the antithesis of supermarket ubiquity, price sensitivity, wide product/service range and extended opening hours. So, despite their small role in total food retail sales, why are they a growing presence and what do farmers' markets say about the consumer needs that supermarkets do not satisfy? This article reports the findings of a questionnaire-based survey of 391 farmers' market customers in five Scottish towns during 2006. Customers were seeking high quality food products, even if that meant premium prices, and put a particular value on direct transactions with the producer. Although these data have a specific geographic context, they have resonance for the growing schism between producer and customer in the UK and other countries.