Winter is here, and many people have had to deal with the harsh reality that their local farmersí market has closed for the season. Is it really possible to eat locally even in the winter?
That depends on where you live. While many markets are seasonal, cooler climates do have their share of year-round farmersí markets. You just have to know where to look.
There are some things to know about winter farmersí markets before you set out to shop at one. They may not be held as frequently as your spring and summer market, and the hours may fluctuate due to extreme weather conditions. And, donít go expecting the same large variety of fresh produce that you find at a summer farmersí market or, even in the supermarket in winter since those fresh peaches on supermarket shelves in winter arenít locally grown but come from South America.
But, there are still plenty of items to choose from. Some of the items that you can find at a local winterís farmersí market include apples, kale, onions, potatoes, turnips, winter squashes like butternut and acorn squash, pears, leeks, and even lemons, grapefruit, and tangerines in warmer states.
The other items that you normally find in spring and summer markets can still be found including cheese, organic and grass fed meats, chicken, fish, fresh baked goodies, jams, jellies, syrups, and honey. Not surprisingly, hot, prepared foods are one of the most popular items at winter markets.
Winter markets can be found all across the US even in the coldest climates. For example, Madison Wisconsin has a year-round market. There are also winter markets in Vermont, including in Burlington, Dorset, and Waterbury. In Chicago, thereís the Green City Market.
To find a winter farmersí market near you, check Local Harvest. Searching using the word ďwinter farmers marketĒ brought up over 420 markets nationwide including those in Montana, New York State, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado and Georgia. Before you head out, check Sustainable Table to find out whatís in season in your area.
However, if you do not live near a winter farmersí market, one option for getting your fresh produce during the winter months is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) .
There are over 40 listed on Local Harvestís site and they are spread across the country.
For example, Shared Harvest is a grower cooperative in Massachusetts that specifically grows local winter produce for a winter CSA and distributes in the Boston area. This winterís planned produce shares include apples, beets, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, onions, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, popcorn, sweet potatoes, radicchio, spinach, Swiss Chard, turnips, winter radishes and winter squash.
Other areas with winter CSAs include Winter Sun Farms that delivers to the Hudson Valley and New York City and also has a partnership with Blue Ridge Food Ventures in Asheville North Carolina.
Next week, we will look at more options for finding local and seasonal food in the winter, especially for those of you with no winter farmersí market nearby.