The Bellingham Farmers Market will expand its nine-month season, usually April to December by expanding to once a month through March.
They are now able to expand into the winter months because farmers have extended their growing season due to grants received in the past two years from the United States Department of Agriculture, said Caprice Teske, market director for Bellingham Farmers Market.
Many local farms can produce more winter-hardy crops during these months through the use of new techniques such as hoop houses and other types of greenhouses.
Winter crops may include beets, spinach, arugula, scallions. peas and carrots.
“It’s a great opportunity for consumers to access local food year-round,” Teske said.
Similar to the Farmers Market's current November and December markets, they’re expecting each of the new monthly markets will feature 40 to 70 local produce stands, food vendors and craft stands. The market is anticipating 800 to 1,000 shoppers, she said.
Roselyn McNicholl of Rabbit Fields Farm, a local produce farm, said she would participate in the winter markets. She said she thinks the extended season will be good for farmers.
“It is an opportunity for farmers to have a venue to sell locally and directly through the public,” she said.
It is important for local farmers to sell their produce outside of grocery stores, Teske said. They can sell their produce at retail price instead of wholesale. This way, the farmers receive 100 percent of the profit, she said.
However, not all farms will be able to take part. Jed Dailey from Evergreen Station said he wouldn’t be participating in the winter markets because he is not sure he will have enough stock.
Lauren Grijalva, a member of Students for Sustainable Food club at Western, is an enthusiastic supporter of the local market.
“It’s all about quality and community,” she said.
She looks forward to being able to collect local ingredients and support local vendors during the winter months.
There are a small percentage of Western students who religiously support the markets, Grijalva said.
“It’s really fun to go with friends who have never been before to check it out,” she said.
Winter is a time where everyone typically enjoys cooking for one another, it’s a time where family and friends get to share food, she said.
The winter markets will still maintain their current hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Depot Market Square but add Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and March 16.