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Winter Farmers’ Market keeps growing with each season

Dec. 20, 2013

By G. Michael Dobbs


SPRINGFIELD – It may be out of the New England’s growing season but the Farmers’ Market at Forest Park offers much from area farmers and artisans.

Taking place every other Saturday in the building known as “The Monkey House” in the park, the market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every second and fourth Saturday.

Belle Rita Novak, the organizer of the market, told Reminder Publications the idea is relatively new to the region and said the only other winter markets she knows of are in Amherst and Northampton.

There are about 20 vendors at the market and Novak said, “It waxes and wanes.” For example, she noted the maple syrup vendor would be leaving the market soon to get the lines to their maple trees ready for the spring season.

A glance around the building reveals there are vendors selling fresh apples and pears, winter vegetables, honey, jellies, pickles, salsa, beef and cider. Outside of the building are three vendors in an overflow area.

Peter Barnum of Barnum and Buckley farm in Southwick doesn’t seem to mind the freezing cold too much as he is selling items that need refrigeration: frozen chicken, pork, bacon and fresh eggs.

Barnum said the key word at the market is “fresh.”

He explained, “People want to buy it from the farmer who has it and grew it.”

Zach Eaton was manning the booth for Berkshire Mountain bakery. The sales, like the air, were brisk.

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said of the winter market. “The market does really well.”

Eaton brings the selection of fresh-baked breads from the bakery in Housatonic.

Back inside, Amada Rowe of Westfield was selling the many products produced by the local company, such as salsa, jams and other condiments. Although she does not sell it at the winter market, Rowe said the company has also developed a line of drink mixes, including wine blizzard, a slushy.

Ron Starcher was selling pickles for Town Farm Gardens in Brookfield. His selection included traditional bread and butter pickles and “kicked up” renditions with hot peppers. One specialty is honey mustard pickles with chopped onion, sweet peppers and honey instead of sugar and mustard.

Starchier said the farm uses its own cucumbers for the pickles as much they can, but the demand for the product exceeds their capacity.

Among the crafters were jewelry makers and, for the first time Sallie Smith Schneider and Jackie Neiman, both of Longmeadow, who were selling their fused glass gift items.

The glasswork is a sideline for both women. Schneider is a breast cancer researcher and director of the Biospecimen Resource and Molecular Analysis Facility at Baystate Medical center. Neiman is a speech and language therapist.

The women fuse together different shapes and colors of glass to create items ranging for jewelry to sushi serving plates.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Neiman said.

For more information about the market, go to http://farmersmarketatforestpark.com.

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