Tomatoes in December?

Photo by Chef José Andrés

As the traditional market season begins to wind down along with the year, customers may be perplexed at the availability of fresh tomatoes.

Are they local?

Absolutely!

Given the demand for locally produced organic foods, long-time market producers are implementing a variety of year-round and season extending practices to offer their customers fruits and vegetables outside the confines of the traditional growing season. Hydroponics, high-tunnels, double floating row covers and greenhouse technologies imported from the Netherlands are some of the ways Central Farm Markets’ vendors are able to bring colorful tomatoes, fresh herbs, salad greens and tender cucumbers year round.

In addition to these extended season treats, there are plenty of vegetables that are readily available due to their ability to withstand frigid temperatures in the field and excellent storage capabilities. These include winter squash varieties and root vegetables like beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, fennel, and celeriac. And then there are the cold weather loving veggies that actually improve in flavor after being exposed to frost such as kale, collards, Brussels sprouts and my personal favorite, kalettes—which are like tiny bunches of purple kale that grow on stalks like Brussels sprouts and can withstand freezing temperatures.

Other cool-season vegetables making a comeback after the summer and fall heat are cauliflower, broccoli and cabbages.

Recognizing that people shop for fresh food year-round, market growers have made significant investments to bring fresh produce to market throughout the winter months.

Speaking of winter months, remember that the market’s Winter hours will begin January 7. Bethesda Central will be open from 10m-1:30pm and Mosaic Central will be open from 10am-2pm on Sundays through March 25.

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