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Greenfield’s Winter Fare, 2014

How Winter Fare changed our lives

By MARY MCCLINTOCK

In 2007, when Juanita Nelson first had the idea for a winter farmers market, all of the western Mass farmers markets ended their seasons by November.

Juanita recalls that she thought, “It’s easy for people to enjoy locally grown food in August when we serve it to them at the Free Harvest Supper, but what about in February? What would encourage people to eat locally grown food in the middle of winter?”

Since Juanita and her husband, Wally, had been vendors at the Greenfield Farmers Market for many years, she thought a farmers market in winter could help.

I was at those first Winter Fare planning meetings in January 2007, and I remember the looks on our faces as Juanita talked about a winter farmers market. There were lots of furrowed brows and wide-eyed looks of skepticism. To me, a farmers market meant roaming around outdoors in the sun and lots of tomatoes and peppers and other colorful fresh vegetables. What could possibly be for sale at a winter market?

We started brainstorming…meat, honey, dried herbs, maple syrup, preserves, pickles, bakedgoods, cheese, apples. There was more than we thought.

Juanita understood that eating locally grown food in February meant planning ahead, growing food, then preserving and storing it. That’s why at those first Winter Fare meetings in January, 2007, we were planning events for February, 2008.

We found farmers who were intrigued with the idea, and who agreed to grow storage crops, and even some greens, for the Groundhog Day farmers market that would begin the Week of Winter Fare.

Anyone who was at that first 2008 Winter Fare farmers market will tell you that there was lots of great food and it was MOBBED with people from far and wide. I remember talking with a woman who had driven up from Connecticut. And, I remember the looks of amazement and delight on shoppers’ faces when they saw the fresh lettuce and greens grown by Gloria and Ervin from Coyote Hill Farm.

That first Winter Fare farmers market planted seeds that we’ve been reaping ever since. Farmers realized there’s a huge market for fresh locally grown vegetables throughout the winter. They started planning crop rotations to include produce to store, and they created or found storage facilities. The folks at CISA realized that other towns in the area could benefit from winter farmers markets and they created Winter Fares in Northampton and Springfield.

One winter farmers market led to another, and another. Now, there are winter markets in towns up and down the valley, some weekly, some monthly.

The increased market for locally grown food means more local farmers and access to more and different types of food. And, right around Groundhog Day every year, when winter feels like it will go on forever, we get together to celebrate, enjoy, and learn about locally grown food.

Saying “Winter Fare changed our lives” seems like a strong statement. But when I stop and think about it, I know Winter Fare has certainly changed my life.

How about you? How has Winter Fare and more winter availability of locally grown food changed your life? Please contact me at 413-522-5932 or mmcclinto@yahoo.com and I’ll pass along your story to Juanita. I can already imagine the smile on her face when I tell her our stories.

Winter Fare at a glance:

Saturday, Feb. 1 , 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Greenfield High School, Kent Avenue off Silver street.

Double your money! CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) will match the first $10 spent by SNAP users, so $10 SNAP gets you $20 of produce.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for Feb. 1 Winter Fare Farmers’ Market. Contact Devon Whitney-Deal at devonwd@gmail.com or 413-625-9907.

Winter Fare website: www.winterfare.org or contact 413-665-7100.

WINTER FARE FARMERS MARKET SOUP CAFÉ, 11 a.m. until we run out of soup. Soups featuring locally grown food from local restaurants: The Brass Buckle, Hope & Olive, Wagon Wheel, and The Cookie Factory.

MUSIC: Local band Last Night’s Fun will provide musical entertainment.

WORKSHOPS:

10:00 to 10:45 a.m.: Lacto-Fermented Vegetables, with Aaron Falbel

11:15 a.m. to noon: Keeping Food Alive: The Secrets of Winter Gardening, with Daniel Botkin 11:15 a.m. to noon: Maple Sugaring Without Trees, with Mark Lattanzi 12:15 to 1 p.m.: Backyard Goats: What You Need To Know, with Rachel Scherer 12:15 to 1 p.m.: Your Food is Your Medicine: Cooking With Medicinal Herbs, with Leslie Chaison

FARMERS’ MARKET

DISPLAY AREA: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., including information about locally grown food and local agriculture.

BARTER FAIR AT 1 P.M.

Too much winter squash and not enough dried peaches in your life? Bring your surplus home-grown/home-made food stuffs to the Seventh annual Winter Fare Barter Fair and trade them for someone else’s home-grown goods. Last year’s Barter Fair was a big hit with participants trading everything from frozen pesto, healing salve and homemade vanilla extract to herbal tea, chestnuts, and of course, pickles.

How does it work? Anyone who has home-grown or home-made food items to barter will gather at 1 p.m. with their goods and take part in informal trading after the Winter Fare Farmers Market.

Week of Winter Fare events

Open Hearth Cooking Classes, Saturday, Feb. 1 and Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Historic Deerfield. Contact Claire Carlson at ccarlson@historic-deerfield.org or 413-775-7217. $55 per person.

Greenfield Local Food Potluck, Sunday, Feb. 2, 12:30 p.m. Call Marsha Stone at 413-773-0201 for details and to RSVP.

Screening of “Food for Change” and Discussion with Filmmaker, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. Sunderland Public Library, 20 School Street. For information, contact 413-665-2642.

Ashfield Seventh annual Local Food Potluck, Friday, Feb. 7, 6 p.m., Congregational Church, Main Street, Ashfield. Contact John Hoffman, 413-625-6967 or Holly Westcott, 413-628-4613 or wescottha@verizon.net for details.

Annual Franklin County “Cabin Fever” Seed Swap, Sunday, Feb. 9, 1 to 4 p.m., Green Fields Market, Greenfield, upstairs meeting room. For information, check out www.facebook.com/greenfieldsunflowers.

Seed Starting workshop, Sunday, Feb. 9, 1 p.m., Ashfield Congregational Church, Main Street. Sponsored by Share the Warmth. Contact Holly Westcott at 413-628-4613 or wescottha@verizon.net for details.

Conway Local Food Potluck Supper, Sunday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m., Conway Town Hall. For information, contact Mary McClintock at 413-522-5932 or mmcclinto@yahoo.com.

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