Lani Telian, Department of Public Health
That’s right! For all you fair weather market-fans out there, there are farmers’ markets up and functioning in the cold weather, too! Local farmers work all year long to produce fresh fruits and vegetables, and more and more markets are extending their seasons to make local produce available all year long. In fact, the Department of Agriculture (DAR) reported a 400 percent increase in the number of winter farmers' markets since 2009. These local growers are bringing their foods to winters farmers’ markets in most parts of the state – and whether you live in the city or the suburbs, chances are there is a market near you. Check out the Department of Agriculture’s easy-to-use interactive Google map for finding winter farmers’ markets near you.
The February edition of ChopChop, a free monthly newsletter for Massachusetts families, highlights Red Fire Farm out in Granby, MA where they are growing more than 300 varieties of vegetables, berries, garden plants and flowers. Visit them at www.redfirefarm.com for more information on their farm, crops, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
So what else can you find at a winter market? Fresh foods likely to be found at winter farmers’ markets include storage crops such as winter squash, turnips, potatoes, carrots, apples and onions, as well as our star of the month – sweet potatoes! Farmstead cheese, eggs, meat, honey, maple products, fish, apple cider and a wide array of locally made specialty foods such as jams and sauces are also likely to be available.
If you’re thinking it’s just too cold out to be market-hopping this winter, think again. Many winter farmers’ markets are located indoors so that it is more comfortable for both the shoppers and vendors. Some are running weekly, while others are open bi-weekly or monthly, and most run through early spring.
Farm stands and farmers’ markets offer a variety of foods, depending on the season. Find out which crops are in season during February, and be sure to check back each month for the newest edition of ChopChop at www.mass.gov/massinmotion/chopchop.