Shoppers at the Winter Farmers Markets can expect to find more than 10 local vendors selling a wide variety of products, including pasture-raised meats, eggs, honey, cheese, greens, carrots, potatoes, turnips, radishes, sunchokes, and winter squashes. Herbal soaps and baked goods will also be available, as well as coffee by custom cup and prepared breakfast and lunch items featuring local ingredients. Live music will be provided once again by Peaches and Bacon. The market aims to fill in the gaps for year round availability of local food, as well as provide an additional opportunity for farmers to sell their local products.
While it’s often believed that farmers in central Illinois aren’t able to grow produce throughout the winter, advances in season-extension technology, such as hoop houses, have given farmers the ability to continue to grow products even in sub-freezing environments. Some crops, like spinach and kale, even benefit from the colder temperatures, producing more sugars and a sweeter flavor.
The Winter Farmers Market grew out of a collaboration between Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Lincoln Land Community College, and the Third Presbyterian Church and will be guided by a steering committee of members from the respective organizations as well as other local partners.
“We learned a lot from the first season of the Winter Farmers Market,” says Molly Gleason, Communications Director for the Alliance, “and now we’re ready to put those lessons to use. We’re happy to welcome a few new farmers to the market this season, and offer even more produce, which is something that shoppers requested last year.”
“Farmers markets play an integral role in communities,” says Marnie Record, Workforce Specialist for Local Foods at Lincoln Land Community College. “They help foster a sense of place and community togetherness, while also keeping food dollars in the community. The Winter Farmers Market in Springfield helps to mark Springfield as a pioneer on the local food scene in central Illinois.”