Thoughts on Winter Markets
As we dig in for a brief splash of winter, I am thinking of an old friend who drove down from Vermont to visit her daughter in Asheville last weekend. She teased all of us about the “warm” weather she noticed in North Carolina, and how she put her windows down to enjoy the sun. I doubt she will be doing that on her drive home.
Monday I discovered this great podcast from Vermont Public Radio on winter markets in Vermont, weekly winter markets. How odd is it that in South Carolina we shut down our farmers markets for nearly 6 months in most places, waiting for spring and summer crops to arrive? Why do we not see more year-round markets in a state with such a temperate climate?
We want to change that fresh food vacuum in Spartanburg. Starting in 2013, we added some late November-early December markets, and last year, we added spring markets as well. This year, we run full markets from March-December, and next year, wait for it, we will include markets on January 30 and February 27 (and possibly in between, depending upon availability of produce). We have stated publicly that we want year-round markets for the community by 2019. We can do it, and you will be amazed at what our farmers can grow. As the VPR podcast states, it is not just all root vegetables!
To make it happen, we will have to encourage more growth, new farmers, and people willing to work and shop in possibly less than ideal conditions. The rewards, however, will be astounding. I cannot wait to see how these markets develop, what new crop we discover, and how quickly we grow our local food system. Just think about how great a hearty, fresh, and local soup will taste on a day today. I can almost feel the warmth of the bowl on my frigid hands!