Get to Know Your Winter Farmers Markets

Did you know that it's becoming more and more possible to feast on locally grown vegetables, even during the coldest months of the year?

The past five years have seen an increase in both the quantity and quality of farmers markets in our area that continue after the May–October time frame when markets typically operate. That's good news for chefs and home cooks who love creating meals with locally sourced, seasonal produce.

Food that's grown in our region brings a number of joys and benefits to our tables: Picked at the height of freshness, locally grown products are full of nutrients (think of those hard, flavorless, imported tomatoes you find in stores in January); buying local means we get to know the people who grow what we eat; and it all just tastes better. 

Fall Bounty
 

We think of farmers markets as the go-­‐to spot for heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn and fresh berries all summer long. A shift to fall and winter doesn't stop the bounty—but it does shift what's available to us. From now through the end of the year, you'll still find gorgeous vegetables and fruit on  farmers market tables. Here's what to look for:

  • Apples and apple cider
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Root vegetables: beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips
  • Leeks, and red and white onions
  • Lettuces
  • Cooking greens: kale, chard, collards, mustard
  • Peppers
  • Squashes: pumpkin, acorn, delicata, butternut
  • Potatoes
  • Meat and eggs
  • Breads and baked goods


Winter Harvest

Beginning in January through early spring, farmers continue to work hard to bring fresh produce to our tables. The chore is complicated by our climate and latitude—plants go dormant during the shortest days of winter, and it isn't until mid-­‐February that things really get growing again. Even  the hardiest crops get frost-­‐nipped unless they're under cover. So farmers are investing in  structures like hoop houses, where they can cultivate plants grown right in the ground with the benefit of warmth and protection.

Crops like apples, onions, winter squash and potatoes also store well, so we can enjoy fall-­‐harvested food even in January and February. Root vegetables growing underground are widely available and are often even tastier when they've endured a cold snap. And many farmers create jarred soups and sauces from what they grow, which are available year-­‐round.

In neighborhoods around Greater Cincinnati, you'll find a number of winter farmers markets with a surprising range of locally grown and produced items. These markets typically move to an indoor location from November through May. You'll find: 

  • Apples and apple cider
  • Cabbage
  • Root vegetables: beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips
  • Red and white onions
  • Honey and maple syrup
  • Cooking greens: kale, chard, collards, mustard
  • Squashes: pumpkin, acorn, delicata, butternut
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Meat and eggs
  • Breads and baked goods

​Bryn Mooth is the author of the Findlay Market Cookbook, the editor of Edible Ohio Valley  magazine, and she also publishes a website called writes4food.com. She loves cooking tasty and uncomplicated dishes, cultivating a small vegetable garden and shopping at the Tristate area's many local farmers markets. Saturday mornings, you'll find Bryn at Findlay Market bright and early, doing much of her grocery shopping for the week. She's pleased to be partnering with Healthspirations to share her recipes, how-tos and information about eating healthfully in Cincinnati!