Have you heard the news? Jamaica Plain is going to have a winter farmers market!
As one of the organizers, my dream is that the Egleston Farmers Market will serve as a community gathering spot for all of JP, as well as a great place to buy fresh local food in the dead of winter.
JP’s first ever winter market will be held indoors at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall, at 45 Brookside Avenue, just steps away from The Brewery. The market opens November 10 and will run on November 17, December 8 and 15, and every Saturday in January and February. Our Lady of Lourdes has plenty of free parking and is close to the Stony Brook T stop on the Orange Line.
The Egleston Farmers Market is a community-led initiative to make fresh, healthy, locally-grown food accessible throughout the year, bring people from all parts of Jamaica Plain together, and support the local economy. “We value community, diversity, and helping our neighbors,” we wrote on the Egleston Farmers Market website. “We also love to eat!” My fellow committee members include Market Manager Kate Peppard, Egleston Square Main Street Executive Director Betsy Cowan, and Jamaica Plain New Economy Transitionand many more volunteers.
We’re trying to create options so that farmers and producers can get a fair price and the food will be affordable for low income residents. SNAP recipients will be able to use their EBT card and SNAP account to buy eligible foods at the Egleston Winter Farmers Market. We also want to raise funds to provide discount coupons for low-income residents. In addition, we seek to build support for local businesses through cross-promotions that will generate additional foot traffic and one-day sales for businesses in the surrounding area.
As I noted in a blog post last year, “Winter Markets Are Hot.” And in November, 2011, the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources listed 30 winter markets in Massachusetts, and chances are there will be even more this coming winter. But until now, folks in JP who wanted to go to a winter market had to schlep to the Dorchester Winter Market at the Codman Square Health Center, or go to Milton, Somerville or the South End.
While many people wonder what there is to buy at a winter market, there’s actually plenty. An increasing number of local farmers are extending the season for growing winter greens and salads by constructing “hoop houses” and greenhouses. And there are tons of storage crops, such as potatoes, carrots, squash, apples and onions. There are also wonderful foods like cheeses, honey, eggs, meat, maple syrup, and fish, as well as locally made specialty foods, including bread, pastries, jams, and salsas. Around a dozen vendors have signed up to sell local foods at the market, and new applications are still being accepted.
There’s just one catch – we need to raise approximately $13,000 to cover the costs of the market, including rent, insurance, promotion, and small stipends for a part-time Market Manager and local youth. Some funds will be generated by seed grants and vendor fees, but we need to raise at least $6,000 from neighbors and supporters to cover the balance.
Since we announced the market a few weeks ago, we’ve already raised $440 from 10 neighbors, covering the cost of insurance! If 600 people each chipped in $10 each, we’d be all set. To donate, please visit our website. We’re also looking for volunteers to spread the word about the market, assist with fundraising, and help on market days; email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Having a community-oriented winter farmers market here in JP is a dream come true for me, and hopefully for many other JP residents. I’m counting down the days—53 at this writing—until I’ll be chilling at the free Coffee Corner at the market, saying hi to the neighbors I know and meeting the neighbors I don’t know yet. Hope to see you there!