Farm fresh eggs from Fossil Rock Farms at the indoor winter farmers market at Frying Pan Farm. The market is held Thursdays from Feb. 23 to April 26 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Photo by Meredith Billman-Mani
The indoor winter farmers market at Frying Pan Farm was greeted last Thursday with an eager crowd of buyers. "We've been waiting for this. I really use the farmers markets to tell me what is in season. I can look around and see what's fresh and growing locally," said Herndon’s Irene Hill. "We are trying to eat more locally and farmers markets tell me what's in season, "said Hill.
"Spring is coming early this year," said vendor Michael Antony with Fossil Rock Farms. According to Antony, the reaction to the winter market setup has been good. "People especially like the fact that it's open after work. They seem less rushed because of this element."
The indoor market is held Thursdays from Feb. 23 to April 26 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. It also features a different free activity each week, which was especially popular with the parents. The first week had free hayrides. Fires, live music, baby animal exhibits and arts and crafts booths are all planned for the upcoming market days.
Susan Dadio and her daughter took their time choosing fruit at the Kuhn Orchard stall, which featured six varieties of apples and three types of pears. "This is so nice to have. I started making my own baby food when she was little and we would come to the summer market to get the food for that. It's great to be able to come in winter now, too," said Dadio.
The vendors started running low on produce half way into the market. Chris Guerre, the farmer behind Maple Avenue Market Farms in Great Falls, was doing a swift business selling baby chard, baby beets, kale and eggs. He started his farm three years ago and uses the customer reactions and buying trends to know what to bring to the markets. Next week he plans to bring more produce now that he has seen the volume of sales this market is capable of. All of his produce is organic equivalent.
"For the first day of an indoor farmers market, in winter and off a main road, it's been excellent," said Guerre. He said customers at this market are really seeking out fresh, local and seasonal produce and "appreciate what's going on."
Katie Clowney with Kuhn Orchards added that there were more families and children at this market than they had expected so they would plan for that in the weeks to come.
There is a nice range of food and products at the indoor market. In addition to the fruit and vegetable stalls, there is a meat vendor, a sweets stall and honey. Multiple farmers were selling fresh eggs and herbs, including thick horseradish roots and rosemary.
With the mild winter weather, crops have done well and are coming in early which means each week the market will have more to offer.