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Winter Markets - If You Build It They Will Come

(post, Eamon Molloy)

The NY Times finally got around to writing an article about winter season farmers markets (see article). The Greenmarkets in NYC have quite a few year-round markets scattered in the five boroughs. The two markets in the article are located in Westchester County (Briarcliff Manor and Mamaroneck). I am really excited to see winter markets expand beyond the urban core and move into the outlying communities. Everyone wins. The communities can buy locally year-round and the farmers have a winter income.

The markets, run by Community Markets, appear to have a nice product selection. (The high tunnels mentioned in the article are undoubtedly big help for the farmers. It can get really cold in the Hudson River Valley.) I really like the fact that these markets are agricultural markets (no crafts). Focusing on locally grown, raised, and produced foods is so important. The message gets muddled when markets stray beyond farms, foods and nurseries. 

The belief that there is nothing to sell is a myth. Here in Portland, there is more than enough product, both in variety and producers, to run a market or multiple markets. I have turned away as many farmers, ranchers and food producers as I can accommodate at the Hillsdale Farmers Market. Winter salad mixes, squash, root vegetables, kale, chard, spinach, arugula, radicchio, meats, eggs, fish, cheeses, breads - the product mix is more than ample. And the educated consumer knows this too. The crowds at the market around 10:30 are nearly as big in February as they are in June.

It takes a while to overcome perceptions about what can or can't be done. But as more markets like the ones in Westchester open up, another myth goes away. And our eating habits are all the better for it.