PITTSFIELD, Maine — Cool winter weather means Maine’s farmers’ markets are moving indoors! The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets has released the list of 2017-2018 winter farmers’ markets. This year there are more than 30 regular markets planned. (Find the list online at www.mainefarmersmarkets.org/
Although the Orono Farmers’ Market remains outdoors year round, most move inside by Thanksgiving. Indoor markets aren’t quite as visible as their colorful outdoor counterparts, but the atmosphere is similar to summer markets, featuring many of the same foods, such as fresh greens, vegetables, baked goods, cheese, wine, meats, eggs, locally roasted coffee, honey, syrup, and much more.
Every year, Maine farmers become more skilled at extending the growing season and storing their harvests, which means shoppers can expect a steady (and sometimes surprising) selection of foods and farm products, as well as some new items to enliven any cook’s repertoire. The holiday season is a great time to explore new options, such as fresh ginger, hard cider, or Maine-grown popcorn!
Winter farmers’ markets help sustain market farmers and food producers through the challenging cold months. “I have to take care of my animals year round, so I don’t have the luxury of finding a part time winter job. It’s not like crops which have a beginning and an end. I have product year round and I need income year round. I don’t do a lot of wholesale because demand drops (or disappears entirely) during the winter months. Selling direct maximizes my income,” says Appleton Creamery’s Caitlin Hunter (a member of several markets, including the Belfast Farmers’ Market).
Maine’s winter farmers’ markets are typically very collaborative and social. Notes Brenna Mae Thomas-Googins (Patch Farm), “At the Bridgton Farmers’ Market we are just thrilled to have our community behind us for the winter season – to have both the farmers and the customers saying, ‘Yeah! Let’s do this thing! Lets support our community with a winter market.’ is really great. It isn’t just the farmers wanting to continue to have a venue to sell their wares, it is the community asking to have access to local foods all season long. We’ve accepted the challenge and hope that during the cold months we can all continue to support one another through good food.”
Shopping at small businesses is a powerful way to support the local economy, and at winter farmers’ markets, there are many farms and small businesses with the best of their products in one convenient location. Shoppers can come away with the makings of a great meal, plus holiday decorations and unique gifts. Many of the winter markets accept SNAP/EBT, and offer bonus produce to SNAP shoppers. Some markets provide convenient services as well, such as chair caning and knife/tool sharpening (gift certificates are often available). Now is a great time to explore Maine’s winter farmers’ markets, and bring home treasures to enliven your holiday meals and gift-giving!
–Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets
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