Fall snows don't mean the end of farmers' markets

Mid-November means no more sampling a piece of cheese, or having a slice of scrumptious apple while enjoying a balmy day at the farmers’ market. But the first serious snow of the year doesn’t mean you can’t get fresh food directly from growers.

All summer farmers' markets in Madison wrapped up Nov. 8. But some markets move indoors and continue through the winter --  Monona Terrace (early winter), the Madison Senior Center (late winter) and inside Hilldale Mall.

Asked about the difference between the dynamics of the market in summer and winter, Kristen Kordet, the owner of Blue Moon Community Farm, said it was complicated to compare the profit margin between summer and winter markets because both seasons have advantages and disadvantages.

“Since in winter you can only sell squash, onions and root vegetables, you don’t have to worry about unsold products because they don’t ripen quickly and you can sell them next week,” Kordet said.

However, in summer, often the harvested vegetables like tomatoes don’t get sold as fast as they ripen. So, “sometimes we incur financial loss in summer,” said Kordet.

But some growers sit out the winter season. Vun, a farmer from Jefferson, only grows green vegetables like lettuce, Chinese cabbage, Chinese broccoli, lemongrass and epazote that cannot be planted during the Wisconsin winter. For Vun, selling season ends when the weather gets cold.

“I only come to Farmers’ Market to sell vegetables in summer,” said Vun.

Winter farmers’ markets don’t have the range of vegetables that you can find in the summer. Perhaps because of this, the crowds for the winter markets are decidedly smaller, Kordet said, which makes moving indoors a trickier financial calculation.

Kordet said that during the summers, she has long-standing loyal clients. In winter, due to the unavoidable absence of diverse vegetables, those clients don’t show up.

Laurel, a farmer from Deforest, shared the same opinion. She plants mainly potatoes and also squash and onions. As potatoes doesn’t grow in winter, she would not be able to sell. Instead she has to rely on onions and squash.

Laurel will be moving indoors to the Hilldale Farmers’ Market.