Did you know that FRESHFARM Markets operates two year-round farmers markets in Dupont Circle and Silver Spring? They occur every week – rain, snow or shine. Our market staff keep snow shovels on-site, and our farmers haul out portable heaters and walls for their tents creating a warm oasis of vegetables.
At first glance the Dupont Circle or Silver Spring FRESHFARM Market farmers markets may seem rather sparse compared to the abundance of late August. Look closer and you’ll find hardy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, kale and even hydroponic lettuces amongst the storage crops including sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips and potatoes. It’s a common misconception that farmers hibernate in the winter, but the winter can actually be a busy time of season planning, building farm infrastructure, winter growing, and attending conferences and workshops.
Shopping at a winter farmers market takes a bit more forethought and dedication, but the rewards are worth it. There’s the joy of fresh food in the middle of winter and the knowledge that you are supporting a valuable sector of the local economy.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your winter shopping:
1. Dress warm and come early! Bundle up and be the first in line at 10am. Anything green usually sells out early, but the cold weather makes green crops produce more sugars; so winter greens are often sweeter and more flavorful than those grown in the heat of the summer.
2. Plan ahead and check our farmers and producers’ schedules before coming to market. Many of our farmers and producers including Tree and Leaf, Next Step Produce, The Farm at Sunnyside and Compost Cab alternate in the winter months. Check their schedule in our weekly enews, or on the interactive market maps on each market page to be sure that the product you want will be at market.
3. Stock up on non-perishables. See something good? Buy it before it’s gone. Storage crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and roots like beets and turnips will keep for many weeks, even months, if stored properly. Buy what you like and use it throughout the winter. Unwashed vegetables keep much longer than those that are scrubbed clean. Tubers and squash should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. Be on the lookout for any wounds or points of damage as they will decrease the shelf life. Beets and other root vegetables can be stored in the fridge for long periods of time.
4. Make soup and freeze it! Fresh vegetables taste best, so use your hardy winter crops right away to make a winter stew or soup and freeze it for an easy meal later on.
5. Don’t forget about meat, bread, seafood and prepared foods. Both Silver Spring and Dupont Circle have a large selection of proteins, and even some prepared foods like soup, pastas, sauces and apple cider. Baked goods including whole grain breads, bagels, cookies and brownies, croissants and quiche are also available.
But however you choose to shop at the winter market, be sure to have fun. Our farmers and producers appreciate your support!
Laura Genello, Program Manager