Bridges to Spring: Winter Farmers’ Markets, a Blossoming Trend
In the wake of recent and ongoing snow storms, memories of leafy green local produce and last fall’s bountiful harvest have all but faded for many of us. But we don’t necessarily have to resign ourselves to shrink-wrapped meat and produce shipped from halfway around the world between now and May. Indoor winter farmers’ markets that extend the local food-shopping season are a growing trend, in all counties of the region, not least of which in Dutchess.
The Red Hook winter market, now in its fifth season, is held at the historic Elmendorph Inn, (above and just below), in the center of the village. In addition to the opportunity to buy from Red Hook-based growers and producers, such as Migliorelli Farm, Hearty Roots and Northwind Farms you can nibble—on-site or later at home—prepared foods from Gigi Market and Tom’s Heritage Baked Goods . You can also pick up a bottle of wine from Tousey winery, or flowers from Stems.
It was due to inclement weather— the formidable ice storm of December 2008—that the very first Red Hook winter market got off to an ominous start. Happily, market manager and former Red Hook councilman Robert McKeon learned that not even an ice storm could keep people away. “Half the town was without power, but we were packed!” he recalls, adding “And our winter market has been successful ever since.”
It’s a win-win situation for local farmers who make a little extra cash, and for customers who seek fresh, local food.
McKeon strives to keep the market close-to-home: Red Hook-based growers and producers who want to participate as vendors get first consideration. “If there’s a gap somewhere, we’ll increase our radius for `local’,” he says.
The charm of the restored inn adds to the ambiance. Once slated for demolition, The Elmendorph—now listed on the National Register of Historic Places—resumes its role as a community gathering spot. A farmhouse built circa 1760, the Elemendorph later became a tavern; it was also the site of the first Dutchess and Columbia County Agricultural fair in 1817.
On a recent Saturday, a steady stream of customers poured through the door. Go early if you want produce. “The biggest draws are local vegetables, which always sell quickly, then local meat products and fruit,” said McKeon.
The 2012/2013 season is the third year for the Rhinebeck winter market, held inside the village Town Hall. Wander this light-filled, high ceiling space, and you’ll find a selection of local and regional products, from Wiltbank Farm mushrooms, Quattro Farm smoked poultry (pheasant, turkey and chicken), pheasant sausage, and duck eggs, and Little Seed Garden greenhouse-grown lettuce. “With more farmers turning to greenhouses, we can enjoy seeing some bright green stuff—even in the dead of winter,” says Market Manger Cherly Paff.
Having succeeded with their outdoor farmers’ market in the summer, Amenia continues with a winter market at the Town Hall every first and third Saturday, monthly, through April. Local foods on offer include naturally-raised, milk-fed veal from Cream Hill Veal in West Cornwall, Connecticut; artisanal cheeses from Amazing Real Live Food Company in Pine Plains; and whole-grain breads from Berkshire Mountain Bakery, to name a few.
The Beacon winter market is open every Sunday year-round, held in winter at Scenic Hudson River Center. In warm weather, it moves outdoors. What you’ll find: grass-fed beef and other all-natural meats from Walnut Grove Farm in Orange County and milk and cheese from Edgwick Farm in Cornwall. The “big one” this year says Market Manager Dana O’Malley is Continental Organics in Tivolli, that uses aquaponic farming whihc allows them to grow fresh produce year round. Perfect for those who value and appreciate fresh food. —Kathryn Matthews
Dutchess County Locations
The Millerton Farmers Market is held indoors at Gilmor Glass, where you can watch an artist blow exquisite glass while shopping for root vegetables, greenhouse greens, and artisanal goods.
2 Main Street, Millerton
March 9 & 23, April 13 & 27; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Red Hook Winter Market
North Broadway (Route 9)
Village of Red Hook
March 10 & 24; April 7 & 21; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Rhinebeck Winter Market
Rhinebeck Town Hall
80 E. Market Street at Center Street
Village of Rhinebeck
March 10 & 24; April 7 & 21; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Amenia Winter Market
Amenia Town Hall, Rte. 22
March 16; April 6 & 20; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Beacon Winter Farmers’ Market
Scenic Hudson River Center
8 Red Flynn Road
Sundays, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Arlington Farmers Market
Vassar College’s North Atrium of the College Center
124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie
Thursdays, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.