Okay, I’ll admit it: I played on Sunday when there was no market. After all the animals were fed and watered and the new baby lambs counted and snuggled, I fueled up on a couple of roasted marrow bones, broke out the cross-country skis and took off across the fields. For a few hours I practiced my rhythm, got in the groove and pushed past my previous limits of the farm lane out into the big expanse of the neighboring dairy farm. Making it to the next tree row was my goal, and once I reached it, I stood there admiring the view and my accomplishment until my phone chirped the familiar sound from my weather app: snow starting in fifteen minutes.
Skiing home in the squall I recognized the dilemma of doing something fun in the harshness of inclement weather, kind of like farming and going to market. While I may be uncomfortable standing out in subfreezing conditions, I am content because of the customers who continue to support the weekly Central Farm Markets’ winter sessions. Now that winter hours have kicked in with markets starting at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m., harsh conditions are more tolerable.
But sometimes those conditions are too harsh, meaning the management of the markets uses common sense to ensure the safety of both vendors and customers by cancelling the markets. (Note: at Bethesda, when Montgomery County cancels school activities due to weather, the market must also close.)
I know there was disappointment last week, but when that second band of snow hit during my ski trek, had I gone to market I would have been cresting the mountain between Maryland and Pennsylvania along with my fellow farmers who travel that route.
We live in the mid-Atlantic, the Northeast, whatever you want to call it, but the reality is winter happens this time of year. Some years are mild and others, like this year according to the Capital Weather Gang, are going to twist us into a tangled mess of hats, scarves, gloves and insulated garments with polar vortices and nor’easters.
Since none of us have any control over the weather the best we can do is deal with it. Here are some tips about how you can make the most out of shopping at Central Farm Markets in the coming winter months.
- Stock up. Winter vegetables, such as squash, root vegetables and winter greens are built to last in cooler temperatures. When extended forecasts call for snow over the weekend, buy extra for the following week in case of a market closure.
- Stay in touch. Between the eBlast, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, website, TV and radio, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to show up to an empty parking lot and complain, “I didn’t know market was cancelled!”
- Remember winter markets start at 10 am. Please let us get set up before helping you. And if you absolutely must have what you need, offer the exact amount in cash as the credit card machines are often the last item to be set up as their batteries wear down faster in cold weather.
- Don’t be mad at us. Seriously, we don’t want to miss a market, however, we also don’t want to slide down the mountain or into a ditch on the icy, snowy secondary rural roads that are not as well maintained as city streets and highways.
- Dress for the Weather. When markets are open in frigid temperatures, put on those extra layers, hats and gloves and ASK your farmer if you don’t see something. They may have it covered or boxed to protect from cold damage.