Farmers Market premiers Saturday at Ag Hall
Just in time for Thanksgiving feasts, the Island's first-ever Winter Farmers Market will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, between 10 am and 2 pm at the Agricultural Hall on Panhandle Road in West Tisbury.
At least 16 vendors will participate in the premier event that will also feature a crackling fire in the fireplace, music by Island talent Kevin Keady, and a cornucopia of Island goods and foodstuffs, according to event organizers Linda Alley and Deborah Koines.
A market is planned for each month through March 2010. The founders are hoping to complete the licensing process to allow food vendors and for a cooking demonstration using locally grown food products by Zephrus chef Robert Lionette in time for the November market, but noted they plan to offer a family menu and cooking demonstrations as staples for future monthly markets.
Participants will sell locally grown and stored vegetables, meats, sausages, poultry, eggs, cheeses, hydroponic greens and tomatoes. Some vegetables, such as leeks, are peaking now and other vegetables for sale will include "tons of dill, carrots, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, broccoli, beets, kale, cabbage, onion, turnips," Ms. Alley said, a bit breathlessly, in an interview this week as she pulled together final market plans.
Ms. Alley and Ms. Koines are prime movers of the 35-year old West Tisbury Farmers Market, held from the second Saturday in June through the holiday weekend in October, with additional Wednesday markets during July and August.
The women say winter farmers markets are growing successfully across the state and the region and both have been volunteering non-stop to get the Island's winter market event up and running since the summer edition of the Farmers Market closed for the season after Columbus Day weekend last month.
"Winter markets are springing up all over New England and they are successful. Many of them are professionally-managed," Ms. Alley said. "Deborah and I went to a farmers market convention in Sturbridge last winter and saw the success communities and farmers are having with winter events. They help extend the growers' season, they are welcomed by their communities, and they may allow some farm businesses to grow."
Ms. Alley said that several Island dairy farmers are considering making cheese and yogurt. "They want to, but the state licensing paperwork and the expense of processing the product can be daunting. Maybe having a market for their product will give them incentive to take on the paperwork."
Ms. Koines explained that future Winter Farmers Markets might include shellfish, a popular addition to the summer markets: "The shellfish were made available under a special state initiative promoting shellfish. The term of the initiative has passed but Roxanne Ackerman, an Up-Island oysterman, is working to have it reinstated."
In addition to Island grown wool and wool products and fresh-frozen beef, pork and lamb, the market will include: Kathleen Cawley's fudge, Ms. Alley's New Lane Sundries jams and jellies, Ms. Koines's Little Rock Farm baked goods; herbal medicine, tinctures and salves from Holly Bellebuono, Pam Glavin's pesto and dipping oils; breads, buns and other savories from Julianne Vanderhoop's Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah.
Wendy Oliver will bring orchids from her Oak Bluffs greenhouse and The FARM Institute will load its wagon with mustard, kale, arugula, yams, and dried flower bouquets. Emily Fischer from Flat Point Farm in West Tisbury will offer goat's milk soap and sheepskin.
"People can come, do some shopping, spend time with their families and friends," Ms. Alley said.
Vendors interested in participating in Winter Farmers Market should contact Ms. Alley at 508-693-9561.
Jack Shea is a regular contributor to The Times.