BY MEGAN BETZ
While backyard gardens have largely shut down for the winter, fresh, local produce is within reach. Thirty-six vendors offer goods at the Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market, and everything is sourced within 100 miles of Bloomington, according to Jen Laherty, this season’s market master.
In the early winter months, hoop houses and hydroponic growing keep fresh greens available at the market. Alongside root vegetables and storage squash, customers will find meats, eggs, and cheeses. Foraged, prepared, and value-added foods (like jams and sauces) are also available.
“We like to say it’s a farmers’ market, stressing the farm aspect,” says Laherty. That means all produce is cultivated or foraged by those running the farm booths. Laherty says the Winter Market is an opportunity for consumers to learn more about the products they buy and find farmers with practices that match their needs or interests.
To learn more about what they are purchasing, farmer Teresa Birtles suggests simply asking those at the booths. “Farmers welcome questions about their practice. They’re proud of it, and it sets them apart,” says Birtles, a Winter Market board member and founding vendor. “A farmer is not going to be offended if you ask the question, ‘What kinds of chemicals do you use?’”
Customers can convert Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to tokens to spend on market goods, and SNAP benefits are doubled, allowing customers to convert $18 of their SNAP benefits to $36 in tokens. Tokens can be purchased at the market information table.
The Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market is a project of the Center for Sustainable Living and is hosted in the Harmony School gymnasium, 909 E. 2nd St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays through March 31. Free parking is available on the street and in the Indiana University Atwater Garage.
For more information, including a full list of vendors and schedule of entertainment, visit bloomingtonwinterfarmersmarket.org.