Just because the cold creeps in doesn’t mean that farming stops in New England. In fact, it just might speed up. Within the past few years, winter farmers markets have been popping up all across the Boston area, indicating that New England farmers are keeping busy, even during the coldest months of the year. Fortunately, they now have more local places to sell their goods – the neighborhoods of Boston. Both community leaders and city officials have helped establish numerous winter farmers markets across the city. Organizers are working closely with vendors to ensure farmers are paid fairly and the food is both accessible and affordable.
I headed out on a not-so-wintry January weekend to explore some of these fairly new markets. My three picks were the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market, the Egleston Farmers Market in Jamaica Plain (JP), and the Dorchester Community Food Coop Winter Farmers Market. Even though it wasn’t that cold, I was thrilled to find that they were all located indoors.
Cambridge Winter Farmers Market (CWFM)
Saturdays 10:00am – 2:00pm
January 5 – April 27, 2013
Cambridge Community Center (inside the gym)
5 Callender Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
5-10 minute walk from Central Square (red line)
Cash and SNAP/EBT. Some vendors accept MasterCard and Visa.
I got a little giddy as I headed into the gym of the Cambridge Community Center. There were families with young children (not a common sighting for most graduate students), live folk music, and lots and lots of food. I started my rounds. First stop: The Coffee Trike. You might see this guy out on the Rose Kennedy Greenway near the waterfront come spring, but until then he’ll be hanging at the CWFM making mochas and lattes. Coffee in hand, I continued around the circle of vendors stopping to snatch a white cheddar and scallion scone from The Art of Pie ($2.00 and delicious), sample some Chardonnay from Truro Vineyards, and pick up some multi-grain bread from The Biscuit – only $3.50 for a decent-sized loaf! Then it was time for some veggies. You should hit this market early if you’re craving kale because both produce vendors were sold out by noon.
However, they had quite an array of decently priced potatoes, squash, collard greens, and other winter vegetables. I topped off my morning with a sample of Honey Blossom tea from Soluna Garden Farm, a bag of cracked wheat hot cereal from Boundbrook Farm (this was a splurge at $7.00 a bag), and a generous amount of red popcorn, which was just $3.00 (can’t wait to try it!). I also spent some time speaking to Erik Andrus of Boundbrook Farm about his current initiative to sail foods down the Hudson River from Vermont to New York City, which was very intriguing. Although disappointed by the lack of kale, all in all I’d highly recommend the CWFM. There are numerous vendors and a variety of foods. It’s a perfect pick-me-up for those with the winter blues!
Saturdays 11:00am – 2:00pm
November 10, 2012 – February 23, 2013
Our Lady Of Lourdes Parish
45 Brookside Ave, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
5-10 minute walk from Stony Brook (orange line)
Free parking available
Cash, SNAP/EBT, and Boston Bounty Bucks. To use a credit/debit card, buy “market dollars” at the info table, and then use them with each vendor.
My next stop was the Egleston Farmers Market located in Jamaica Plain. Had I known it was located around the corner from the Sam Adams Brewery, I would have planned my day better. Mei-Mei Street Kitchen is also parked nearby. The market had a cozier feel than Cambridge with fewer vendors but a plethora of people from the Boston Cyclists Union. The market had a staffed information table at the entrance where community leaders Myrna Greenfield and Shaquille Jones were providing information and answering questions about the market. I circled the gym, stopping to see the uniquely shaped pastas at Valicenti Organico and tasting some flavorful baba ganoush from Seta’s Mediterranean Foods. My favorite stop, however, was Hickory Nut Farm, where Peter gave me a sampling of five different goat cheeses and even some goat fudge! The fudge was delicious, but in the end I opted for two wedges of goat cheese – one aged in sea salt and the other made with peppercorns. It was well worth the $10.00. On my way out, I was surprised to see a table full of farm tools, so I stopped to learn more and was introduced to Agricultural Hall, a one-stop shop for all your urban agricultural needs located in Jamaica Plain. Like the CWFM, Egleston had a variety of vendors selling everything from cheese to pasta to produce to fish to cupcakes. You might not meet all of your grocery needs here, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
Dorchester Community Food Coop Winter Farmers Market
Sundays 12:00pm – 4:00pm
January 6 – March 24, 2013
Great Hall in Codman Square
6 Norfolk Street
Dorchester, MA 02124
5-10 minute walk from Shawmut (red line)
Parking available on the street and at the Codman Square Health Center
Cash and credit cards (MasterCard and Visa) but not debit cards. SNAP/EBT and Boston Bounty Bucks also accepted. Some vendors accept WIC vouchers.
On Sunday afternoon, I made my way to the Winter Farmers Market in Codman Square, where there was also a staffed information table at the entrance. In addition, there was an opportunity to purchase a $1.00 raffle ticket in hopes of winning two grocery bags full of food (sadly I didn’t win). Shaquille Jones was also at this market – since he does freelance work with both the JP and Dorchester markets – and he offered to show me around. The venue was a little smaller than JP and had a few of the same vendors, including Hickory Nut Farm, Red’s Best Local Seafood, and the Great Cape Baking Company. The top picks from this market, however, were the Pirate Spread from Engelnook Farm, stuffed grape leaves from Samira’s Homemade, and almond butter cookies from The Ancient Bakers. The founder of The Ancient Bakers, Tonya Johnson, began experimenting with ancient ingredients when her son was 15 months old. He was diagnosed with acute malnutrition due to several food allergies, and his skin began to break out in rashes. Many elimination diets later, nothing seemed to be working. The state wrongly charged Johnson with neglect. She decided she had to take things into her own hands. That’s when she started experimenting with ingredients like medicinal flowers, rosemary, sage, sprouts, and more. She began baking cookies and biscuits with these ancient ingredients and sans dairy and gluten. Her son is now 13 years old, and it was neat to see him by her side supporting her at the market. “I eat a lot now,” he said, “a lot!”
Unfortunately, I could not make it to all of the Boston winter farmers markets. There are many more to be explored so be sure to check here for a market near you!
Photos by author
Lainey Younkin is a second-year Nutrition Communication student. She loved exploring these Boston winter farmers markets and will gladly go back to any of them with anyone who’s interested!