Cris Carl, Networx
Three years ago, Andrew Huckins took on the task of managing a winter farmer’s market in Northampton, Massachusetts. “We needed a winter market. It wasn’t much work because everybody was ready for it,” said Huckins. Housed every Saturday in the basement of Thorne’s Marketplace, a three-story collection of shops, the space is filled with a wide mix of shoppers and wares. There are colorful arrays of greens, root vegetables, yarns, cheeses, breads, mead and more.
“The winter farmer’s market has created an ongoing connection with our customers, and it’s nice to maintain that all year long,” said Whitney Shepperd, of Chicoine Farm in Easthampton, MA.
The connection between the farmers and their customers has created a community experience you won’t find in a supermarket or big box store. Rachel Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, MA, said that the farmers and other vendors get to know what their customers want and then they can tailor their crop production to their customers. “People can come week after week, month after month to get fully local foods year-round,” said Huckins.
Huckins said that he really sees the winter farmers market as a “community center or hub…it’s the relationship between the farmer and the customers that’s important,” he said, adding, “This is a way to re-humanize the economy for food production and consumption.”
Robertson-Goldberg said that Massachusetts, once-upon-a-time, used to be able to produce most of its food. “The winter farmer’s market seems like a new-fangled idea, but really, it’s the supermarkets that are,” she said.