Farmers Market – Winter

Schenectady greenmarket sign

Schenectady greenmarket sign

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.


Patrons on the lower level of the greenmarket

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.


Grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken

City residents sought out butchers, bakers, dairy farmers and beekeepers. They looked for maple sugarers, wine-makers and apple growers.


Organic bread from one of the three local bakers

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)

Apples and cider

Apples and cider

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:


Checking out the local co-op

My local co-op is one of my favorite places to shop. I find it strange that it’s located in the heart of Albany, practically right next to what one might consider the “projects,” yet it brings in such a wonderful, wide variety of people. It doesn’t sell only local or only organic items, so I don’t always succeed in my locavorism, but it’s still an awesome place. When K and I first started going here, each week was like a trip to another culture. You need to bring your own plastic bags for veggies, or containers to put things like rice or sugar in or you have pay for the ones you use. It’s a great incentive to bring your own and reuse items.

It’s a bit “hippie-ish” for some people – lots of dredlocks and homemade clothing. I love it. The bulk section is amazing. Just look! We found everything from pumpernickel rye flour to xylitol (hard to find where we live) to plain citric acid. But you can find nearly any kind of flour, dried fruit, syrup, wheat, rice or bean you could want.

Today we only needed a few things from the co-op. We do our food shopping at the farmer’s market and regular grocery store on Sundays usually. We picked up some local honey (as the beekeeper that is usually at our farmer’s market wasn’t there last week), some whole wheat bread flour (actually bread flour – is this different from regular whole wheat flour? I don’t know), some citric acid to try our hand at homemade dishwasher detergent, a couple of glass bottles of milk, and Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap.

So, I love Dr. Bronner’s – it has 1001 uses, I swear. Nowadays it’s even Certified Fair Trade and the oils used are certified organic by the National Organic Standards Program. I’ve been using the peppermint soap for years for camping trips because it was the only kind I could get, and was biodegradable and didn’t have phosphates and all that jazz. While his peppermint soap is, uh….zingy…it’s very overpowering – and I’m not a huge fan of mint overall – even when it’s an antiseptic. However, it made my foyers smell minty fresh for over a week, I must admit. But I thought that Dr. Bronner’s must have an unscented one, and if anyone would have it, Honest Weight would. I mean, look at all the kinds of Dr. Bronner castile soap they have!

They did 🙂 I got 1 1/2 lbs (why pounds instead of liquid measurement, I have no idea) of Baby Mild Liquid Soap.

Hopefully I will putting many of these things to good use in a few days!