Winter Farmers Markets Begin This Weekend
by Martha Jackson Suquet
Do you feel a twinge of sadness as temperatures drop and your favorite seasonal farmers markets wind down? Berkshire Grown’s Winter Farmers Markets offer a great venue to boost your spirits (and spend your grocery dollars locally) throughout the year. Founded over a decade ago when local food options in winter were sparse, the Winter Farmers Markets enlivened the local food landscape, providing shoppers and farmers opportunities to connect year-round.

Berkshire Grown’s Winter Farmers Markets began in 2009 as the Holiday Farmers Markets, growing from two markets that first year to four the next, to our current line-up of eight market dates spanning the winter season from November through April. The COVID pandemic forced us to make some changes, but it also highlighted the important of local markets in uncertain times. With new locations and rigorous safety protocols, vendors and customers embraced our Winter Farmers Markets through two intense years of the pandemic, supporting an important outlet for local food.
Farmer Elizabeth Keen of Indian Line Farm has been at the Berkshire Grown Winter Farmers Markets since the beginning, and she notes that “the fantastic customers who come out every market during the colder months warm my heart with their enthusiasm for local greens in the winter.” She’s adapted her farm business to meet the growing demand for fresh produce in winter.

One major goal of our markets is to improve local food access. We accept SNAP (EBT) at all markets, and we also participate in HIP, the Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program. Through this incentive program, SNAP users can receive an immediate refund back onto their EBT cards when they buy HIP-eligible fresh fruits and vegetables. By visiting the Market Manager’s table, SNAP shoppers can take advantage of the Market Match program and get a dollar-for-dollar match up to $25 per market. Berkshire Grown can handle SNAP and HIP transactions, as well as process debit and credit transactions, so that even vendors without their own card readers can still participate in these programs.

We’re very grateful for our current South County location at the Housatonic Community Center, known locally as the Housy Dome. This venue is walkable for many Housatonic residents and is served by the BRTA Route 21 Bus, making this winter farmers market even more accessible to local customers. In North County, we will return to Greylock WORKS in November and December, and look forward to welcoming old and new vendors in their bright, open space.

What can you find at the markets? A full vendor list follows this article, but here are some highlights. First and foremost, you’ll find the freshest local produce available: leafy greens, hardy winter squash, apples, unique radishes and turnips, and more. Meat eaters can find everything from centerpiece holiday roasts to favorites like pork chops or chicken thighs, flavored sausages, and charcuterie. Round out your winter meals with local cheeses, jams, baked goods, and other specialty items, and don’t forget to pick up a jar of local honey or some alpaca gloves for holiday gifts. If you get hungry while shopping, both locations feature hot food grilled outdoors.
At the December 18th market in North Adams, local crafters join our farmers and food producers to sell an even wider variety of goods. With handmade woodworking items, bags, jewelry, body products, and knitwear, you’ll be able to find the perfect gifts that highlight and support our local crafting community.
Berkshire Grown’s Winter Farmers Markets represent a growing roster of winter markets in the area. On most weekends throughout the season, you can find at least one market to fulfill your local food needs. Other local winter markets include North Adams, Bennington, Millerton, New Lebanon, Pittsfield, and Sheffield. You can find the full regional list of markets here.

For a deep dive into local crafts, the Delightful & Delectable Holiday Market at Saint James Place in Great Barrington on December 3 & 4 brings together an extremely high level of craftsmanship, as does the curated craft event Festive at Greylock WORKS on November 19, the day before our North Adams farmers market in November. Visit both markets – Saturday's Festive event showcases crafts, our Sunday November 20 Winter Farmers Market brings in the local food!

List of Vendors, Great Barrington
November 19

List of Vendors, North Adams
November 20

Berkshire Farmers Tell Their Stories
Watch these new 3-minute videos!
Topher Sabot of Cricket Creek Farm talks about life on a
small dairy farm in Williamstown.
Sharon Wyrrick of Many Forks Farm talks about life on a
CSA vegetable farm in Clarksburg.

Keep an eye out! More farmer videos to come throughout November:
Bruce Howden, Howden Farm
Melissa and Peter Martin, Dandelion Hill Farm
Jim Schultz, Red Shirt Farm

Keep Farmers Farming!
What We Are Reading:
Farmland Values Hit Record Highs, Pricing Out Farmers

Small farmers are now going up against deep-pocketed investors, including private equity firms and real estate developers

By Linda Qiu for the New York Times
Photo Credit: Unable to afford land in her native Florida, Tasha Trujillo recently moved her flower farm to South Carolina. Photo Credit...Travis Dove for The New York Times
Joel Gindo thought he could finally own and operate the farm of his dreams when a neighbor put up 160 acres of cropland for sale in Brookings County, S.D., two years ago. Five thousand or six thousand dollars an acre should do the trick, Mr. Gindo estimated.

But at auction, Mr. Gindo watched helplessly as the price continued to climb until it hit $11,000 an acre, double what he had budgeted for.
“I just couldn’t compete with how much people are paying, with people paying 10 grand,” he said. “And for someone like me who doesn’t have an inheritance somewhere sitting around, a lump sum of money sitting around, everything has to be financed.”

What is happening in South Dakota is playing out in farming communities across the nation as the value of farmland soars, hitting record highs this year and often pricing out small or beginning farmers. In the state, farmland values surged by 18.7 percent from 2021 to 2022, one of the highest increases in the country, according to the most recent figures from the Agriculture Department. Nationwide, values increased by 12.4 percent and reached $3,800 an acre, the highest on record since 1970, with cropland at $5,050 an acre and pastureland at $1,650 an acre.
A series of economic forces — high prices for commodity crops like cornsoybeans and wheat; a robust housing market; low interest rates until recently; and an abundance of government subsidies — have converged to create a “perfect storm” for farmland values, said Jason Henderson, a dean at the College of Agriculture at Purdue University and a former official at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

As a result, small farmers like Mr. Gindo are now going up against deep-pocketed investors, including private equity firms and real estate developers, prompting some experts to warn of far-reaching consequences for the farming sector.

Read the full article here.
Berkshire Grown's

Every time you buy directly from a local farmer, you eat the freshest farm products and you support local agriculture as a vital part of the Berkshires economy.
This 2022 Guide to Local Food & Farms is the region’s most comprehensive guide to local farms, farmers markets, and restaurants offering local foods - use it to find farm stands, CSA farms, pick-your-own farms and orchards, as well as locally sourced value-added products like charcuterie, preserves, and fermented foods and locations and hours of food pantries spread across the county.

You can also find the best in locally grown food and products near you on Berkshire Grown's searchable map!

Keep your Guide to Local Food & Farms handy and use it frequently!
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Margaret Moulton, Executive Director
Jordan Archey, Program Manager, Business Members
Maeve Dillon, Food Access Program Manager
Martha Jackson Suquet, Winter Farmers Market Manager
Sharon Hulett-Shepherd, Membership and Office Manager
Join Berkshire Grown here.