Healthy, fresh food still found at winter farmers markets

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Healthy, fresh food still found at winter farmers markets

In the past 10 years, The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor has seen a dramatic increase in the number of farmers markets, as well as a greater number of vendors and variety of products available.

From any town within the National Heritage Corridor, a weekly farmers market can usually be found close to home. From spring to late fall, the opportunity to purchase farm-fresh local products is readily available. Growing season farmers markets are abundant with fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, breads and more.

Even though most farmers markets close for the winter, we do have some winter markets operating. Winter markets offer fresh food and also provide an opportunity for expanded relationships and rapport between customers and our region’s farmers.

The locations change from outdoor to indoor, and the varieties of products changes as well. You’ll find more root crops, such as beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips, along with easy-keeping varieties such as winter squash, onions and garlic. Fall fruits that store well, such as apples and pears, could also be available. Farmers who have greenhouses may also have some cold-hardy greens, such as kale, arugula and spinach. Most winter markets will also have meats available from beef to chicken and pork.

Many farmers markets not only feature products grown and raised locally, but also locally-made foods and goods. Prepared foods, such as breads, relishes, jams and jellies, sauces, maple syrup and a variety of cheeses are likely to be found. You may also find local artisans and craftspeople selling their wares.

Here is a list of winter markets I have been able to locate within (or close to) The Last Green Valley towns.

Danielson: At Westfield Church, 210 Main St., Danielson, from 9 a.m. to noon, the first and third Saturdays, through March. Holiday market 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 22.

Ledyard: At Ledyard Senior Center, 12 Van Tassel Drive, Gales Ferry, from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturdays, through Feb. 23. Information: ledyardfarmersmarket.org/winter-market/.

Plainfield: Shepard Hill Elementary School, 234 Shepard Hill Road, Plainfield, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 9.

Coventry: Coventry High School, 78 Ripley Road, Coventry, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through March 17. Information: coventrywinterfarmersmarket.com.

Storrs/Mansfield: Mansfield Public Library, 54 Warrenville Road, Mansfield Center, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 22, Jan. 5, Jan. 19, Feb. 2, Feb. 16, March 2, March 16, April 6, April 20. Information: storrsfarmersmarket.org/winter/.

The Winter Solstice will be upon us Dec. 21. Despite the season of ice and snow, you can still enjoy heathy foods provided by your local farmers by heading over to one of the winter farmers markets.

We live in a beautiful region called The Last Green Valley. Our local farmers are an integral part of what makes it such a wonderful place to live and work. I hope you join me and so many others (including our region’s farmers) as we care for, enjoy and pass on this special place we call home.

Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org.

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