Laura Gallup is the marketing and events coordinator for the Ithaca Farmers Market as well as the managing editor of Edible Finger Lakes magazine. She lives in Ithaca but grew up eating strawberries by the bucketful on her dad’s farm in Hector. In this new column, Laura will be sharing tips on how you can eat locally year-round.
While it’s easy to shop locally in the warm months, when all you have to do is roll out of bed and throw on your Birkenstocks — it’s still possible in the chilly months, too. So forget the dreamy lakeside backdrop for now, because there’s freshly-made cinnamon buns, loads of local dinner ingredients and a convenient parking lot!
Each Saturday morning from January to March, you can find thirty to forty of your favorite vendors in a new location. And new this year – the winter market has moved from The Space at Greenstar to the atrium of Triphammer Marketplace.
To find out what’s available at the market this time of year, I visited Chaw Chang and Lucy Garrison-Clauson of Stick and Stone Farm. Their farm is part of a 300-family winter CSA program that runs December- March, and they’re professionals at making a living growing veggies during the snowy season.
Their farm sits right off of Route 96 between Ithaca and Trumansburg, and its a conglomerate of small buildings – with no clear boundaries between where the house starts and the barn ends. Chaw welcomes me to the farm and takes me through the washing and packing area.
Chaw is a year-round vendor and the chair of the winter market committee. He tells me that he has regular customers that come to the outdoor and indoor locations. “In the winter, we see people shop with us at market that have CSA’s during the rest of the year, even some that are in our summer CSA, but don’t want one in the winter.”
We walk down into one of the cold storage rooms to see rows of big, cardboard bins labeled Daikon, red beets, scarlet turnips and rutabagas. Hidden amongst the bins are also carrots, turnips, radish, kohlrabi, winter squash, Napa cabbage and radicchio. Unwashed veggies sit in bins, loosely covered by plastic, staying fresh in the cold air. Yellow apples and pinkish shallots are stored in a slightly warmer area nearby, stacked in plastic trays.
Chaw tells me that the root crops will last until May and that leafier things like cabbage are good until February. “You just have to start trimming them more and more, though.” But (thankfully) by the time cabbage is out of season, their high tunnels will be full of greens ready to harvest.
Lucy and a gigantic Great Pyrenees dog join us as we walk out of the barn and into the fields behind the house. She notes that a lot of their customers try to buy local produce while staying with what’s in season, making their greens a hot commodity. “They’re the most adventurous customers because they’re willing to try whatever we manage to bring,” she said.
Three high-tunnel greenhouses are close by, each with different little green things starting to poke through the dirt. The plastic-enclosed rooms are warm and bright, filled with spinach, chervil, claytonia, arugula, Asian greens, green and purple totsoys, mizuna, kale, cilantro and scallion. Lucy says they start the seeds in September, plant them in the tunnel in October and harvest everything from Jan to April.
Lucy and Chaw specialize in growing a variety of Asian veggies year-round. They’ve also taught a pickling class at Greenstar for the last few years, and say that it’s helped get people interested in some of their exotic produce. “More people are being experimental with the Asian greens,” said Chaw. “There’s a bunch of people who took the class and are all excited about daikon radishes – because now they know what to do with them.”
Stick and Stone has three different revenue streams; their CSA customers, the farmers market and their wholesale customers. “In a way- we’re leveraging our greens to market our root storage crops,” said Chaw. Lucy adds that even offering a bit of greens with their root veggies keeps CSA customers excited. “We could do wholesale with just root crops, but market customers and CSA folks really appreciate the greens.”
Since Greenstar is in the process of moving to a new location, Ithaca Farmers Market knew they’d have to find a new location for the winter market. Chaw was involved with the new location search and said that the organization had looked for the perfect spot for years. Businesses and management at Triphammer Marketplace have expressed approval and enthusiasm for the market to move into the atrium beginning this Saturday.
“We really the like atrium,” said Lucy. “It’s a little cold, but not too cold – actually for vegetables its a great temperature! It’s a nice atmosphere and it’s already a place where people are coming and shopping regularly, so we can add to that.”
Join the farm, food and artist vendors this Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., for the first Winter Market of the year in the atrium of Triphammer Marketplace, 2255 N Triphammer Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850. There will be a ribbon-cutting at 10:30 a.m. Join the Facebook event here!