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Don’t click away just because you see the word winter. It’s coming and we have to deal with it eventually. 

One way to make the harsh realities of winter a little lighter is to keep some of your warm-weather routines, and visiting the farmers’ market can be one of those summer habit holdovers. 

No, we’re not asking you to hike through the snow to visit your favorite vendors in Howe Meadow (could you imagine!), but rather come inside to Old Trail School to continue shopping locally November through April. 

Save the Date: Season Opening Nov. 5, 2022

That’s one week after the close of our Howe Meadow Farmers’ Market season

If you’ve never shopped at a winter farmers’ market in our region, you’re in for a treat. It’s different from a summer farmers’ market, but let’s explore all the great reasons why winter farmers’ markets exist and why you should try shopping for local products indoors this upcoming season.  

How and what to shop for at a winter farmers’ market

You may be thinking a winter farmers’ market will be made up of only art, baked goods, frozen meats, and handmade items. It’s easy to think that shopping locally and eating seasonally with local food ends with the first frost, but that’s not true! 

However, it’s possible to eat local year round once you consider all the fall produce that is meant for storage, breads and pastas, eggs, and greens that are grown under cover thanks to the season extension techniques our savvy farmers use. 

It’s not difficult to create nutritional and healthy meals in the winter out of local food. Think of all the squash, potatoes, dried beans, spinach, beets, and apples that can fill your plate! And by the time you’re ready for a change, March and April bring more opportunities for fresh early produce again. 

Reasons to shop at a winter farmers’ market

Now that you’re convinced eating locally year round is possible, let’s examine why it’s so important to support winter farmers’ markets. 

Support farmers and the local food system year-round
This is pretty straightforward, but in case you didn’t know, farmers’ don’t take the winter off. This is a key time to support them by purchasing local produce and meats as they begin to plan and prepare for next spring. Budget and crop planning spreadsheets, equipment repairs, and animal care are all tasks happening every day on our local farms. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about stopping by a grocery store instead of the market, and remember your part in keeping our local food system strong.

Sustainable and healthy eating habits
Remember that local food is typically healthier food full of nutrients. That doesn’t change in the winter even when we’re talking about root crops like potatoes, beets, and radishes that can be preserved or stored. Yes, any type of preparation or storage of foods will diminish the nutritional value, but food that starts locally and grown in sustainably managed soils starts off with higher nutrient values. So when you’re trying to get the most nutritional bang for your buck, shop for local produce and meat and ask your farmer about their growing and production processes. (Side note, winter markets are a great time to get to know your farmers and local vendors since they’re typically not as busy as summer markets.)

Local food access programs
Countryside believes that fresh, local, and healthy food should be available to everyone, regardless of their budget. Many food access programs, like SNAP, offer incredible local food and farmers’ market benefits for low income families and individuals in our area. This is amplified by programs like Produce Perks or Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition vouchers. For these members of our community, the winter farmers’ market is another healthy avenue to use these benefits and a major reason why winter farmers’ markets are important to communities. 

We’re very lucky to live in a period where farmers’ markets aren’t rare anymore, and that includes winter markets too! In fact, more and more cool climate markets pop up every year across the states. So don’t be shy and make it a point to explore a winter market this year. 

Winter farmers’ market features

We bet you’re curious about what you can expect at the Countryside winter farmers’ market. Great question. There are a few features you should know about that make the winter farmers’ markets easier to shop and more fun to visit! 

Preorder and curbside pick up options
If you like to plan your meals ahead of time or are strapped for time (hello, holiday season!), preordering your market haul for a fast pick up on market day, or curbside pickup, is made for you. Each market week you can order ahead with our preorder option (Tuesday, 10am – Wednesday 6pm) from participating vendors using our online shop for a $5 fee. Then, at that week’s market, you can collect your preordered items from the vendors. This way, you know they won’t run out before you get there, and you’re probably getting the best looking produce and goods since you’re the first to order!

Curbside is equally helpful for local food enthusiasts who are too busy to shop on market day or those who may be feeling under the weather and don’t want to be near others. You can use curbside just like the preorder option, and for a $10 fee, the Countryside Farmers’ Market team will pack your preorder and bring it to your car. This is also a great option for everyone who doesn’t like walking around in the snow!

Cooking demos
One of the great features of a winter farmers’ market is the cooking demos from local chefs. These are great sources of inspiration if you’re struggling with what to do with winter market produce. These demos are meant to take a little guesswork out of cooking with fall and winter foods so you can still eat locally without the headache.

Local holiday shopping
Winter farmers’ markets offer a special opportunity to shop for local handmade and homemade goods that make for meaningful gifts and treats around the holiday season. Starting in November and through the holiday shopping season, most winter markets are filled with specialty items from preserves to festive treats or local crafts to gift sets. 

Now that you know about winter farmers’ markets and all they hold in store for the season, make plans to visit us regularly and support local small businesses throughout the season. The Countryside Winter Farmers’ Market at Old Trail School schedule is below, so mark your calendars! 

>> November 5, 19

>> December 3, 17

>> January 7, 21

>> February 4, 18

>> March 4, 18

>> April 1, 29

 

*Note, as all of us Northeast Ohioians know the weather can change our plans at any moment. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for last minute updates, market delays or cancellations. 

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