On any given Sunday, between 10am-2pm, hubby and I can usually be found in one place, an independent coffee shop/theater alley. Drinking fair trade coffee? Lining up to see the latest show? Hardly. While we both love the arts and our caffeine, we’re there for something else – our local farmer’s market.
Since November, we’ve been thrilled to say we actually can go to one in our own town. Well, apparently they have one every Thursday by City Hall between 11am and 1pm, but some of us actually do work and are unable to get there during those hours. I’m not sure how great it is anyway. But for the last few years, K and I had been making a weekly drive of about 30 minutes every SATURDAY to a pretty fantastic farmer’s market one county away. It was kind of tiresome, and sometimes we thought about the impact of our cars on our environment in our attempt to buy local foods, feeling a bit hypocritical.
And then it happened. Driving down one of the most busy streets in our county, we saw a banner overhead heralding the beginning of a new farmers market nearby. And strangely enough, it was beginning in November.
Now, November is not the most ideal time to start a farmers market. All of the summer markets in the area (the three county-wide area to be exact) have shut down by then. But root veggies and cold crops like broccoli and cauliflower are still hanging around, and there’s a few other things that can be purchased.
Obviously, in the days of yore, wintertime was the time when much of the farm work came to an end for some months, and everyone lived off the bounty of the harvest hopefully, or starved if they didn’t. Whatever could be preserved was tucked away to be eaten during this time, whether it was dried or smoked, salted, or canned. Trying to eat locally becomes a bit more difficult than at a summer farmers market.
Which is why I was so surprised to see that one was getting started at that point in the year. And the story of it founding made it even more unique. Apparently, our farmers market was started by the customers, people like you and me who were also tired of driving a distance each week and went in search of farmers who would be willing to come to us to sell.
So they spent this summer driving down dirt roads in search of the sorts of farmers who never come to the average city-dweller’s mind. Forget rows of corn and climbing beans — that won’t sustain a market when the snow starts to fall.
City residents sought out butchers, bakers, dairy farmers and beekeepers. They looked for maple sugarers, wine-makers and apple growers.
By the time vegetable farmers began their last harvests of the season, this grass-roots committee had found and persuaded nearly a dozen winter farmers to drive to Schenectady, come snow or ice, and sell their goods. Not all are selling raw foods — there will also be stews and soups, soaps and lotions, pottery and wool. –(From the article – Farmers market to be open year-round in Schenectady, Schenectady Daily Gazette, Sunday, October 12, 2008)
We’ve loved having a farmer’s market so close to us. Weekly, we enjoy buying bread, eggs, meat, veggies (all root veggies at this time of year, obviously) and honey. We also look forward to buying our weekly quart of apple cider and will be sad when the apple harvest has been consumed.
But in only a few short months, the abundance of the land will be upon us again and we can’t wait for the sun to be beating upon our shoulders as we bike to the open-air summer market!
For now, though, we’ll just enjoy being nice and warm through the winter.
Local farms that we go to pictured above:
- Coopers Ark Farm
Eggs, poultry, ducks, emu
- Migliorelli Farm
Vegetables, fruit, cider, donuts
- Our Daily Bread
Artisanal breads, scones, granola, biscotti, bagels, danishes, pastries
- Sweet Tree Farm
Grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken