Winter Farmers Market starts new year with fresh food
COLUMBIA - People gathered at the Columbia Winter Farmers Market Saturday to buy fresh produce and foods after the holiday.
The market has been around for 35 years but this is only its sixth year at the Parkade Center location. Vendors do not only sell vegetables but meats, breads, jams and other products too.
Market Manager Corrina Smith said that the market is important for health and economical reasons.
"The purpose of us growing products or growing food is to keep the dollar here in the community and to have fresh, healthy food for Columbia," Smith said.
The Winter Farmers Market accepts both cash and food stamps and some booths take credit cards.
The majority of foods are grown without GMO's and eggs and beef are raised cage-free and grass-fed.
Katie Thorn, a vendor and employee of The Salad Garden in Ashland, said the market is about more than just money.
"It feels really good to tend the land and do everything organically so we're not hurting the land [or] hurting people who are eating our produce," Thorn said.
One reason farmers are able to grow fresh produce during the winter months is because of polytunnels or high tunnels, which are semi-circular or square tunnels made of polyethylene.
"It's an enclosed structure, kind of like a greenhouse but it's not heated," Smith said.
These tunnels can help farmers grow almost year-round, although when temperatures drop so can their harvest, meaning less traffic through the Winter Farmers Market.
"It does drop off a little bit the beginning of the year, just because it gets colder and some of those things unfortunately aren't able to grow," Smith said. "But as we get closer to spring things are going to start growing again."
Smith said she expects to see more products and vendors at the market in the next couple weeks.
The market also has different bands come and play inside the Parkade Center to entertain shoppers. The band members are not paid in cash but instead with donations of food and supplies from vendors participating in the market.
The Winter Farmers Market will be open in Columbia almost every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.