BY JANA WILSON
Visitors to the Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market might be surprised by the variety of produce and other goods for sale by local vendors, especially in the dead of winter. But the market has been around since 2004, and Market Master Bobbi Boos says that long experience has paid off.
“We’ve gone from eight vendors in the first year to 38 this season,” Boos says. “And the variety of produce has increased because the growers have gotten much better at growing over the years.”
Vendors offer locally grown produce, meats, eggs, and dairy, as well as soaps, flowers, plants, mushrooms, honey, and prepared foods. “You could eat all week off the produce and prepared foods from the market,” Boos says. “Though you might have to buy a little rice.”
As in the past, customers can use SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to purchase tokens that are doubled up to $18.
On the first Saturday of each month, Wild Alaska Salmon & Seafood Company will be at the market with sustainably caught king and sockeye salmon. And on the second and fourth Saturdays, Chef Brett Morse of Bloomington Precision Sharpening will be on hand to sharpen and condition knives brought from home.
New this year are Winter Market gift cards, available in $10 increments, and accepted by all market vendors.
Farm to Family Fund gift cards are another relatively new program. The gift cards, and other donations, pay participating Winter Market farmers half price for food that remains unsold at the end of each Saturday market. Thanks to a 2-1 matching grant this year, each $10 gift card will actually purchase $30 in local food. The food is delivered directly to The Rise!, Community Kitchen of Monroe County, and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard after each market day ends.
Both the Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market and the Farm to Family Fund are projects of the Center for Sustainable Living.
The market is open each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Harmony School, 909 E. 2nd St. Free parking is available at the school, on the street , and just a block away at the Indiana University Atwater Garage. The market runs through March 31.
CHECK OUT THIS PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE BLOOMINGTON WINTER FARMERS’ MARKET! (Click on the photo to start the slideshow. Use the on-screen arrows or the arrows on your keyboard to navigate forward and backward.) Photos by Naama Levy