The fall and winter Farmers Market at the Ag Hall is much different than the crowded market at the Grange Hall in mid-summer. In the off-season, we like to warm ourselves by the huge fireplace, take our time to stop at each little stand for a chat, and enjoy a hot drink or some soup while we catch up with folks we haven’t seen since last spring.
There’s something about the toasty atmosphere — live music with Sean McMahon and Robbie Soltz — not to mention all the delicious samples provided by Island purveyors. Each Farmers Market display really grabs my attention on these now-lazy Saturday off-season mornings.
At the Farmers Market, everything is well laid out and tempting. This time around, I wanted to fill a basket with all the things I’d love to get if a friend (or a significant other) decided to shop for me at the Farmers Market. Then, I thought that if I’d love such a basket, I bet friends and family might feel the same. So I grabbed a fair-priced wicker basket from Chicken Alley and headed up to West Tisbury. I made my way around the booths, filling the basket with everything I would want if I were getting a gift basket from the Farmers Market.
First, I had to have homemade jam from Linda Alley’s New Lane Sundries. Linda is a Martha’s Vineyard native and started making preserves for the West Tisbury Farmers back in 1987. Her stand is an easy reach since she’s right there at the entrance to the market. Linda’s jams contain everything from raisins to jalapenos to ginger, so you’ll have a tough time choosing. Some jams are sweet, such as the raspberry jam and the sweet apricot marmalade; if you like savory better, go with the sweet red pepper jelly or the zinfandel chili jam. Lucky for us, Linda has samples ready for us to try while we shop.
There are still plenty of veggies available at the market, and adding a few acorn squash or a bunch of deep-red beets to your gift basket makes it pretty and festive. You’ll find Island farms well represented at the market. Morning Glory Farm happens to also sell sweet bread along with greens, cauliflower, and carrots, so I threw in a loaf of fresh baked zucchini bread as well. Pasture Prime Farm had some terrific sheep’s wool yarn for sale, two-ply in white or gray that comes from the Cormo sheep at the farm. The little children’s sweaters and hats for sale are expertly done, but for someone at my skill level, enough yarn for a simple pull-on cap would be perfect.
If it’s all-natural lavender or beach plum soap you’re after, you’ll want to head to the Flat Point Farm stand. I also picked up a woolen washcloth-covered cake of sweet fig goat’s milk soap, great for ecology-minded folk. (Besides, I’ve always wanted to try it.) Island Bee Company has 100 percent beeswax candles in pretty shapes and a “tower” of honey jars produced from bees in three different Island towns. When you line up the jars together, you can see the different shades of the honey, depending on the location of the hives. Customers can buy honey from Chilmark, West Tisbury, or Edgartown.
It’s not really a gift basket if it doesn’t contain chocolate, so my last stop was the Enchanted Chocolates stand. I picked out one of their classic chocolate bars as well as a box of chocolates and a cellophane bag of one of my favorites — nonpareils.
By the time I had finished gathering the goods, I had a holiday basket that I wanted to take home for myself. But that’s not exactly how it works, is it?
The fall and winter West Tisbury Farmers Market is open every Saturday, 10 am to 1 pm, through Dec. 14, 2019, at the Ag Hall, 35 Panhandle Rd., West Tisbury. Visit wtfmarket.org for more information, and if you look under the “Calendar” section on the site, you might find something fun for the kids to do at the market.