Regular farmers market customers love the winter farmers markets to continue nutritious and healthy eating year-round. According to the Agriculture Marketing Service, the number of winter farmers markets nationally have more than doubled in the last ten years. What does that look like for the north Texas farmers markets during the winter months?
What is a Farmers Market?
Let me be clear about one thing, the only REAL farmers markets are organized to be a market for the farms to sell direct from the farm to the customers. There are a handful of farmers markets in the area that work hard to take this to heart in their mission and management.
Winter is probably a good time to get to know the farmers and producers with the slower pace. If you want to really know the origin of your food, you can ask opened ended questions that require conversational answers. The terms farmers market, local, organic and natural have all been hacked. Don’t assume all the above, just because you are buying at a “farmers market”.
Why are Good Local Market and St. Michael’s Farmers Market closed for the winter?
In considering attending winter farmers markets in the Dallas neighborhoods, you will not find the familiar ones. The City of Dallas ordinance change (Chapter 29A), in 2013, extended the number of days to forty that a neighborhood market can be held each year. For a once a week market, that means closing for three months out of the year.
How can farmers grow in the cooler months?
Fortunately, we are in a favorable climate for growing the cool season crops. Click here for the Texas Department of Agriculture Seasonal Produce Chart. Many farmers have taken the lead to extend their growing season with improved technologies for farms, especially since there are more farmers markets staying open year-round and more chef demand for local products.
There is a rise in indoor growing with hydroponic and aquaponic for microgreens, lettuces, spinach and greens. Most farms I have visited over the last five years have now extended their growing season with cost effective hoop houses and low tunnels.
What about meat, eggs and goat cheese?
Ranchers will continue their market days as meat can be processed throughout the winter. Just remember there are only a few of your favorite grilling cuts in each processed animal, so now is a good time to warm your belly with some of the slow cooked soups and stew cuts.
Eggs slow down with the lower temperature, so many ranchers are increasing their layer numbers for their winter farmers market customers. There is a season for goats, too. The winter milking has dried in preparation for the bouncing baby goats in the spring!
How are winter markets economical?
Many of the farmers and producers rely on the winter markets for additional income, which over the long term can increase production capacity. There is also more time to work on farm infrastructure and repairs with the shorter hours and days per month.
Value added products (preserves and breads) and cold stored produce (winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes) will fill up the booth along with greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbages.
What can customers do to support winter farmers markets?
Take the New Year healthy challenge and shop first at a farmers market or get in on a farmer’s CSA for fresh farm ingredients for winter dishes. Every dollar spent supports small businesses and increases their ability to continue to bring the wonderful products we can find only at the farmers market each season.
Have empathy when you think it is too cold or windy to run by the farmers market. Just think of those vendors preparing and packing, driving a few hours to stand outside the entire time to be there with a smile and product for you.
What farmers markets are open in the winter 2018?
Clear Fork Farmers Market– Every Saturday, 9am to noon
Coppell Farmers Market– Second and Fourth Saturdays through March, 8am to noon
Cowtown Farmers Market– Every Saturday, 8am to noon
Dallas Farmers Market – Every Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm (not all produce is farm direct)
McKinney Farmers Market– First and Third Saturdays, 8am to noon (not all produce is farm direct)
When do the other farmer markets open up weekly?
Coppell Farmers Market– Every Saturday starting in April, 8am to noon
Good Local Markets – March through December: Paul Quinn Market on Thursdays 3-7pm
White Rock Market on Saturdays 8am-1pm
McKinney Farmers Market– Every Saturday starting in April, 8am to noon
St. Michael’s Farmers Market – April 14th-September 15th Saturdays 8am to noon
This listing is not complete. Please comment below if you know of other farmer markets that are supporting farmers by not allowing reselling of wholesale produce not directly from the farm. We will review the vendor guidelines, interview the market manager, visit the farmers market to add them to this listing.