Farmers markets aren’t something for just the summer months any longer.
The arrival of Jack Frost doesn’t mean you have to forsake fresh produce. Many cold-weather states are beginning to take advantage of an extended growing season. Some produce is hearty and grown later into the season like kale, some farms have hoop houses and grow even after the first frost, and some produce is picked in prime season and cold stored like apples, potatoes and more. So, opening winter farmers markets is a way to provide additional income to local vendors and encourage healthy eating all year-round.
Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market, which jumped on the trend early on, has been operating for 12 years in the warmth of the Northampton Senior Center. It is back for another season on Saturdays after opening its doors just in time for Thanksgiving. The market will remain open until April 18.
The market, a gathering place for folks during the colder months, not only offers fresh produce, but specialty products, locally prepared foods such as pastries, rolls, cookies breads, frozen meat pies and more, as well as live music.
The farmers market is managed by Ali Diamond and Leslie Lucio, who put their heart and soul into the project, along with a wealth of experience behind them. Lucio was a farmer who worked many farmers markets, and Diamond has been involved in nonprofits in the community for some 10 years.
“We were friends with the previous owner who moved to Boston, and felt we could bring our own perspective to the market and were excited to get involved in the community,” Diamond said.
While the market has many loyal shoppers, Diamond said their numbers vary on any given Saturday.
“On an average day we see about 400 customers, but that number rises to around 600 during the holidays. I think that it is nice to have a place to go in winter that is fun, vibrant, warm and cozy,” she said.
Among the many vendors lined up for the 2019-2020 season include:
· Baker’s Lane Biscotti – small batch, handmade cookies
· Barberic Farm – frozen lamb and meat pies, preserves, eggs, wool, sheepskins, leather work
· Bread Euphoria – bread and pastries
· Crabapple Farm – vegetables, seedlings, grain, beef, lamb, and eggs
· Cricket Creek Farm – dairy products
· Davenport Maple Farm – maple syrup and a full line of maple products
· Gary Craig Farm – hand needle felted items
· Kirk’s Creations – fermented foods and their popular Stukitz Kraut using a recipe that goes back generations
· LifeBooch Kombucha – fermented probiotic drink filled with naturally occurring probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants and healthy organic acids
· Many Graces Floral – wreaths, dried flowers, spring bulbs
· Mayval Farm Creamery – fresh cheese, cheese curds, Icelandic skyr and creamtop milk both regular and chocolate
· Mycottera Farm – gourmet and exotic mushrooms
· Nuthatch and Bluet – silkscreened items
· Parnella Naturals – 100% all natural products safe for your body, home and the environment
· Red Barn Honey Company – honey products
· Red Fire Farm – organic produce, fruit, garden plants, flowers
· Ruggles Hill – goat cheese
· Twin Oaks Farm – fruit and herbal plants, house plants, vegetables
· Underline Farm – meat products
· Winter Moon Roots – organic carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips and radishes
“This has been a spectacular season for us and we have some of the most beautiful root crops we have ever harvested from rainbow carrots which are mind-boggling beautiful to Asian radishes. Our harvest is coming to an end and we will be storing and selling our crops all winter long,” said Michael Docter of Winter Moon Roots in Hadley.
“Our entire farm is oriented to winter and to ensuring high quality roots for our customers, which we produce with the most minimal carbon footprint possible. We are glad to be at the Winter Farmers’ Market once again this year to provide a source of good quality, local food so that people don’t have to buy from California, Chile or other faraway places,” he added.
“The market is a great place to visit, especially in December, when our vendors have many specialty items for the holidays such as choice cuts of meat, special cheeses and breads, and crafters bring special items to sell such as clothing, need felt, soaps and more,” Diamond said.
Beth Lewand, operations manager at Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, also likes the exposure the winter market offers for them.
“During the summer, farmers markets are visible because they are outside and customers are aware of what is happening and local farms are at the very top of their minds during the growing season. We want people to know that we operate all year producing food, so it is great to have an indoor venue like the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market where we can share our bounty with customers,” Lewand said.
“We are a grass-based cow dairy farm and we are very proud of our artisanal farmstead cheeses that we bring to market, as well as our grass-fed beef and whey-fed pork,” she added.
Lewand also noted they will be making grilled cheese sandwiches on the spot for hungry market-goers.
Local musicians add a special ambiance to the market every Saturday, including the festive sounds of a children’s violin group from the Northampton Community Music Center and local singers and songwriters playing guitar and piano for the holiday month of December.
“Please come and visit our Winter Market. We have excellent produce waiting for you, some very nice products to give as gifts or purchase for yourself, and musicians and singers waiting to entertain you,” Ali said.
For more information, visit their website at northamptonwintermarket.com, where they list participating vendors for specific market days, as well as upcoming events. Visitors to the site can also sign up for their weekly newsletter filled with recipes, stories and updates on the market.
New hours for the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market are 9a.m. to 1p.m.
The Northampton Senior Center is located on 67 Conz Street.
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