Winter Farmers' Market has much to offer

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 12:57 PM

After a much-needed break over Thanksgiving weekend, the Durham Farmers’ Market is back in full swing! Yesterday, the market switched to its winter hours and will be open every Saturday during the winter from 10 a.m. to noon.
There is a common misconception that farmers’ markets are only open in the summer time when corn and tomatoes are bountiful. However, the Durham Farmers’ Market, and many of the other local farmers’ markets, have blown that idea out of the water and are open 12 months a year.
In the winter of 2006, a handful of Durham Farmers’ Market’s farmers, bakers and crafters who had product available during the winter months set up shop in Central Park School’s cafeteria every other Saturday morning. They were able to offer cheeses, eggs, meats, yummy baked goods, some crafts, and small quantity of winter vegetables. Every time the market was open, Durhamites, hungry for local food, quickly snapped up all of what the farmers had to offer. 
In response to Durham’s demand for local food in the winter months, farmers began planting crops in greenhouses and sunny, warm, south-facing fields for a winter harvest. Farmers’ started building more greenhouses on their farms specifically for wintertime production. Some farmers have even shifted their focus to growing vegetable crops in the colder months.
Over the past six years, the market’s wintertime presence has been growing. In 2006, there were about 10 vendors each week. This year, you can expect to find more than 45 farmers, bakers, specialty food producers and crafters to come to the market each week. In fact, two farms will only be coming to the market from December to March. Heeks Farm in Bahama and Root Down Farm in Cedar Grove have honed their winter growing skills and will have a wide range of vegetables over the next few months.
So, what can you find at the farmers’ market during the winter? A wide range of types and cuts of pasture-raised meats – look for pork, chicken, beef, goat, bison, lamb, rabbit, and duck. There will be lots of chicken and duck eggs – but until the days start getting longer (January), you’ll need to get there early to find eggs. There will be cow and goat’s milk cheeses, pecans, honey, fresh baked goods (including gluten-free), pasta, fermented foods, nut butters, jams and preserves. In December, there will be lots of craft and items for the gift giving season. And then there are all the vegetables! Root vegetables, greens, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and even greenhouse grown tomatoes will be available all winter. In December and March, you’ll also find broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
The Durham Farmers’ Market is open weekly on Saturdays from 10am-Noon all winter long!