More than 30 farmers, bakers, and artisan crafters are moving indoors Saturday, December 4, for the sixth season of the Winter Farmers’ Market, which will be open Saturdays through March from 9 a.m. to noon.
The market is located in the gym at St. Mary’s School at 323 Vermont Avenue in Oak Ridge. Customers may shop in person or choose curbside pickup or home delivery through the Market-To-Go program.
“The Winter Farmers’ Market brings local food and local folks together in a unique and fun way, with great food, live music, cooking demonstrations, free kids’ activities, artisan crafts, and more, indoors all winter,” said Rebecca Williams, director of Grow Oak Ridge, the local nonprofit that produces the market.
“We have two ways to shop again this year: in-person and online through Market-To-Go.”
The market offers an abundance of locally grown cool season produce like kale, spinach, lettuce, and gourmet mushrooms, and even some winter strawberries and tomatoes, a press release said. It also carries free-range eggs, pasture-raised meats, tilapia, local honey, artisan breads, pastries, unique handmade bath and body products, and handmade gifts from local artisans.
The Winter Farmers’ Market is open Saturday mornings through March, except for the holidays on December 25 and January 1.
Nourish Kids Club is free at the market for ages 2 to 12. Children receive a veggie tasting, a fun activity, and $5 in Produce Bucks to spend at the market. Nourish Kids Club is sponsored this year by local businesses and the Y-12 Gives Foundation.
“Last year we distributed more than $4,000 in Produce Bucks to children in the Nourish Kids Club,” Williams said. “More than 79% of parents said their children were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables after trying them at the Winter Farmers’ Market.”
Returning farm vendors include Zavels Family Farm, Gooseberry Knoll Farm, Spring Oak Farm, Enlightenment Acres, Blue Flamingo Farm, Wilson Family Farm, Alive-n-Digginit, Eco Rich Farms, and Whippoorwill Apiaries. There will also be two new farms.
Returning bakeries include VG’s Bakery and Handmade Toffee & Treats, plus new bakeries Soul Flour Bakehouse and Singing Bread Bakery. Also returning is Cooks on the Curb, with specialty pimento cheese.
“If you need curbside pickup or home delivery, try our innovative Market-To-Go program,” Williams said. “It’s an online farmers’ market with the same products we have indoors. Order on our website (GrowOakRidge.org) during the open window from 12 p.m. Monday to 12 p.m. Thursday 12 for free curbside pickup on Saturday. For an extra $5, you can choose home delivery in Oak Ridge.
“Market-To-Go brings convenience and safety to our customers, while increasing farmer income,” Williams said. “It’s really a win-win for everyone!
“Grow Oak Ridge received a U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop block grant for Market-To-Go. We are excited to be able to expand the program and serve even more customers.”
The Winter Farmers’ Market and Market-To-Go are “producer-only,” meaning all vendors must make, bake, or grow what they sell within 150 miles of the market.
Volunteers are welcome throughout the market. Volunteers with musical talent are invited to play for tips, but they must sign up at GrowOakRidge.org/volunteer.
As a charitable nonprofit, the market also offers a nutrition incentive program called Double Up Food Bucks.
“We match SNAP/EBT (food stamps) spending, up to $20 per day, for fresh fruits and vegetables,” Williams said. “This helps our food-insecure neighbors enjoy the farmers’ market too.”
Masks are optional in the market at this time.
“We follow the safety guidelines for our gracious host, St. Mary’s Parish,” said Williams. “We do ask that you be respectful of one another, and be aware that Market-To-Go is available as a curbside option for those who want to avoid crowds.”
Purchasing from farmers year-round strengthens the local food system and keeps farmers coming to Oak Ridge, Williams said.
“When you see a farmer selling with us in the winter, you know they’re trying to make a living from farming, and it’s not a hobby for them,” Williams said. “We know that the national supply chain has had its difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been wonderful having a strong, resilient local food system. Now more than ever, supporting local Tennessee agriculture is important.”
As a nonprofit organization, Grow Oak Ridge relies on donations from individuals and businesses. For more information visit www.GrowOakRidge.org.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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