Giving thanks for the winter market
Resourceful farmers and community members make eating locally through the winter less of a challenge and more of celebration.
Every September I ask myself the same thing: “Where did summer go?” There is never enough time to fully enjoy the bounty of vegetables and the income stream they provide to the small farmer. The winter farmers’ markets sprouting up in dozens of frosty, northern-latitude towns is cause for celebration both for eaters and growers. Impressively resourceful venues have been discovered including school gymnasiums, churches, Grange buildings, community art centers, and greenhouse businesses (which are thrilled to have a sudden stream of customers in the heart of winter). These markets are often managed by a dedicated crew of volunteers, although some have also created non-profits based around their valuable work.
On the seacoast of New Hampshire the non-profit organization Seacoast Eat Local (SEL) is entering its fifth winter market season. The Exeter high school gymnasium or Wentworth greenhouses host the SEL winter market from mid-November through the end of April. Consumer demand has risen every year and, according to Sara Zoe Patterson, the coordinator for Seacoast Eat Local, one thing that has helped has been cooking demonstrations and recipes. Consumer education about winter foods has positively influenced sales.
Heron Pond Farm located in South Hampton, New Hampshire has grown for the SEL winter markets the last four years. Co-owners Andre Cantelmo and Greg Balog sell a variety of vegetables including stored greens like cabbage, kohlrabi and brussel sprouts; fresh greens; stored root crops and apples. “Winter markets are more than important, they are vital to the longevity of the farm,” says Cantelmo. “We can’t survive without the winter markets.” Between their 200-family winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and participation in the winter farmers’ market scene, Cantelmo says the farm makes more money in the winter than in the summer. And the financial ripple effect of the winter market not only allows Cantelmo and Balog to continue to collect an income, but also allows them to employ three of their seven summer workers over the winter months. Read more…
For more information: www.rodaleinstitute.org