By RICH MONETTI
When the weather is warm, people come across the farmers market and feel good all around. They eat healthy, support local farms and lighten their carbon footprint. Of course, when the chill ushers in, all that sustainability can fade as fast as the market’s seasonal disappearance. But the Down to Earth Farmer’s Market inside the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Mamaroneck is bridging the gap between its more traditional, seasonal cousins.
“There’s a lot more than you would expect,” Frankie Rowland, director of community relations and marketing for Down to Earth, said about the indoor winter market which opens in Mamaroneck on Jan. 4, 2014.
Utilizing greenhouses and hoop houses, with a heating system, customers will see produce like squash, broccoli and lettuce from Gaia’s Breath Farm and Gajeski Produce at the 168 W. Boston Post Road locale. Though tomatoes are out, corn is in.
“We do have some farmers who work with co-packers, so they’ll take the vegetables at the peak of when they are fresh and have them frozen,” Rowland said.
Apples, pears and other items will be available from small farm outlets such as Orchards of Concklin in Pomona, while root vegetables, such as rutabagas, potatoes and radishes, go about their natural business of preserving in the cold.
“These last throughout the winter,” Rowland said.
The market also tries to arrange its stock around all three courses of a dinner.
“One of the things we work toward with our markets is to provide all the different aspects of what you need to make the whole meal,” Rowland said.
That means specialty foods like Kontoulis Family Olive Oil, meats and chicken from Stone & Thistle Farm and prepared concoctions of exotic origin that lighten the load for the holiday cooker.
Gourmet Indian Chutneys of savory sweet or spice make wonderful vegan marinades, glazes, spreads, dips and simmer sauces, according to the Bombay Emerald Chutney Company.
Finally, it’s always nice to have something to soak up the gravy.
“We work with a number of bakers,” Rowland said of companies like Wave Hill Breads and Orwashers Bakery.
Down to Earth doesn’t exclude desert either.
This includes Flourish Baking Company in Scarsdale and Meredith Bread, which People Magazine recently tapped as the best of its kind for any extended family get together.
Of course, if people want to be their own winter farmers market, and do a little personal preserving, the vendors know best and are ready upon request.
“The vendors are always happy to talk to the shoppers. They really enjoy that. It’s part of the reason a lot of them do farmer’s markets,” Rowland said.
Everyone is also forthcoming when it comes to what to do with the freshness once it leaves the building. There will be cooking demos, a recipe program and a market manager who’s happy to answer questions on how to prepare various items, according to Rowland.
All in all, a core base of customers who miss the summer market coincides with farmers looking to not be left out in the financial cold every winter.
“This helps [farmers] in terms of having a more consistent income throughout the year,” she said.
At the same time, Down to Earth pledges to keep the farmers markets from creating a conflict of interest in local economies.
“One of the things we work very hard at is not to offer items that would compete with local merchants, and there’s actually been studies showing that people spend additional amounts with surrounding merchants when they go to the farmer’s market,” Rowland said.
It’s a positive experience for everyone, all year round.