I live in North Carolina and we definitely have all four seasons here. Mildish winters and summers. Breathtaking falls and springs. We are so fortunate but even with winters that rarely experience a blizzard, our local farmers markets tend to be ghost towns from November through March.
Summer however is a different story. You roll up in the parking lot around 9am. Cars are backed up down the street, and you circle for 10 minutes to find a parking space. People and strollers are everywhere. I’ve been coming to this market for years. Out of the 52 weeks a year, between my husband and I we might miss 4 Saturdays a year. In December you can roll right up, grab a space, and walk anywhere without bumping into another person.
So I ask myself where are all of these people during Winter?? It’s my duty as an “agtivist” to make sure folks understand that many cities have year round markets. Maybe the massive sign when you pull into mine that says open year round isn’t enough of an indicator. To encourage people to visit more often and not just when the weather is lovely I came up with these 10 reasons:
1. Local farmers don’t take the winter off. They’re out in the cold planting and harvesting. If they can do that 365 days a year, we can take one day a week to go out in the cold to support them.
2. Your local farmer that’s using organic practices won’t be selling you GMO’s. You may not be able to guarantee that in the grocery store.
3. You don’t have to wait for Spring CSA’s to have local produce. Farmers are selling food all year long. Just because it isn’t pre-sorted and decided for you in a bag or box doesn’t mean it isn’t available.
4. Farming is hard. I grew up on a farm. My grandparents and dad and his siblings did backbreaking work everyday just to live in a shack to feed themselves and others. There is no easy ride in farming and for that alone we should support them because without them, there’s no food!
5. Social time. I’ve grown special relationships with my farmers. Seeing them every Saturday and asking about their farms and families is a highlight of my week. I use it as a chance to get out of the house and visit with friends.
6. Winter harvest are just as yummy as spring and summer. Sweet potatoes, greens, and winter squash. Mmmmmm.
7. There are no crowds and parking is easy in the winter!
8. Eating local food year round will keep you healthy. You’re less likely to eat processed food when you’re buying local REAL food.
9. It feels good to support farmers! Really it does. Knowing that you’re helping support their cause and their families with your dollars is good for endorphins.
10. Eating in season is part of our evolutionary make-up. It’s a difficult task but shopping year round at the market makes that easier.
Enjoy your summer market going and don’t forget when fall gets here keep going!