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""This is a guest blog from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), written by Program Coordinator Julia Grimaldi.

Ever wonder what farmers do during the winter? To find out, we asked a few Massachusetts farmers. Although it’s cold outside, the ground is frozen, and land is unplanted, there is still plenty of work that needs to get done.

Pressing Cider in Amesbury

Glenn and Karen Cook of Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury — a seasonal orchard, CSA, and farm store — are constructing a new hard cider–making facility this winter, as well as renovating their storefront. Glenn also spends about five hours a day pruning their apple trees, trellising 3,100 posts, and clearing snow from the greenhouses when it’s needed.

“This is a good time of the year for us as a family and a business to think about the direction of our business. We have time to think, plan, and take advantage of professional trainings too, and in just a few weeks we’ll be prepping seedlings for our greenhouses,” Glenn Cook said.

Growing Greens in New Braintree

Glenn Stillman — of Stillman’s Farm in New Braintree — grows spinach, mesclun lettuce, Asian greens, and kale in cold-frame greenhouses during the winter.

“There is actually more stress and worry to winter growing than during the summer,” said Stillman. If the temperature drops below 20 degrees, which often happens in the middle of the night, his plants may freeze.

Caring for Cows in Dudley

In Dudley, Krisanne and Jim Koebke are hard at work on Walnut Lane Farm. Their 230 acres are home to approximately 120 cows. Raising livestock is a full-time, 365-day-a-year job. Although the cows and calves spend more time inside, milk production remains the same. As a result, cleaning the barn happens more frequently, about two to three times a day.

The Koebkes also sell their own compost, beef, chicken, raw milk, and eggs from an honor system farm shed that they keep heated for their customers in the winter.

Where You Can Find Fresh Winter Foods

If you’re looking for the fruits of these and other local farmers’ labor, you can find late-season produce like kale, chard, and cabbage — as well as storage crops like apples, potatoes, winter squash, and carrots — at winter farmers’ markets. There are plenty of all-season products too, like cheese, eggs, poultry, meat, honey, and maple syrup. The Boston Public Market, which opened in July, boasts more than 38 vendors offering a little something for everyone, from fresh seafood to Massachusetts wine.

Visit a farmers’ market near you to get a taste of the season — you might be surprised by what you find, even when the ground is snow-covered.

Have a favorite winter farmers’ market? Let us know — tweet @MassGov. Share this post with friends and family to get the word out about local winter produce.

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