Why I Farm All Winter: Local Farms Respond to Community Demand

Winter markets are bustling this year. Crowds of people come together each weekend at markets across the region, including the Asheville City Market where towers of fresh veggies greet the community when they walk through the door.

Market manager Mike McCreary estimates that sales and attendance at the indoor winter market have doubled since last year. He says increased public demand encourages farmers to think differently about winter production and to find new ways to make produce available year round. Last year some farmers sold out of produce within the first hour of the market, but this year many farmers have stepped up production.

Matt Coffay is the owner of Second Spring Market Garden in Alexander, North Carolina. He grows produce for his farm’s four-season CSA, as well as restaurants, and farmers markets. His booth overflowed with greens and root vegetables when the market doors opened on a recent Saturday. We stepped outside to talk about why he farms all winter.

“It’s amazing the variety of produce that you can keep coming out of the field and out of the hoop houses fresh in the winter,” he says.

Coffay grows beets, carrots, radishes, and many different greens in unheated tunnels out in the field. He says growing produce year-round contributes to a healthy economy and healthy community.

“I think winter production, especially diversified winter production where you can actually feed people a full diet, is key to advancing the local food movement in places like Asheville,” he says.

Want to show your support for year-round farming? Stop by a farmers market or join a year-round CSA. ASAP keeps a list of winter markets and CSAs in its Local Food Guide: www.appalachiangrown.org

Aired 2/22/16

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