Following is a letter I will be sending to my local farmers market manager who oddly enough decided to close our market early and open late just as local farms are beginning to find ways to extend the growing season by months. Nationwide, high tunnels and other approaches to farming are extending growing seasons and making even local lettuces a reality in December.
Dear Ms. Maricle;
Congratulations on your first season as manager for the OP farmers market. I have been coming to that market with my family since before our child was born. So many of the farmers who are regulars there know us and know that their sustainably-raised, local foods have been on our family dinner table for all these years.
Each year, as the market closes for the winter season, my child and I both get sad for all the friends we will miss and the foods as well. Winter is the longest season surely because of this, even longer this year with the early closing of the market and no November purchases of chestnuts and pecans, sorghum and preserves, and the last of the hearty winter greens.
You may find it interesting, however, that today even as the temperature plummets to THREE degrees and the Christmas lights are glowing, today I am going to a local farm and picking up a CSA package. The package will have lettuces and carrots and greens in it, all of which were grown outdoors — not in a greenhouse — using high tunnels.
High tunnels and other innovations are gaining ground, so to speak, in our area. These growing methods now extend our growing season by months, both at the season’s end and the next season’s beginning. Rather than giving up on local produce at October’s end and waiting over five months until April, I now can easily get local food through December and at the beginning of March.
Local foods are also not limited to just produce. Even in winter, I buy meats, milk, eggs, cheeses, canned items, bread and other local food items that are still available even when the produce growing season is done.
Which is why, I am wondering, did you choose to shut our market down earlier than season’s past and delay the opening for two weeks later in the spring? The farmers who sell at market rely on income each week, decreasing those weeks will decrease their potential income. Rather than lose money, the best of the local farms who sell at the OP market will likely find other venues to sell in. Which is where we all in our community will lose out.
Ms. Maricle, I am asking you to reconsider the later opening date for the OP market. Our farmers have chosen to innovate and evolve their methods in order to make our local food scene even better. I am asking you to support those farmers and make it possible for them, and local food in our area, to continue to grow.
Thank you. Best wishes for your holiday season.