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CISA hopes Winter Fares will bolster markets

  • Gazette file photo<br/>Increased interest in buying local food throughout the winter, has led to more winter farmers markets like this one. Starting Saturday, CISA will hold the Winter Fares in conjunction with the ongoing markets in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield.

    Gazette file photo
    Increased interest in buying local food throughout the winter, has led to more winter farmers markets like this one. Starting Saturday, CISA will hold the Winter Fares in conjunction with the ongoing markets in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gazette file photo<br/>Increased interest in buying local food throughout the winter, has led to more winter farmers markets like this one. Starting Saturday, CISA will hold the Winter Fares in conjunction with the ongoing markets in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield.

    Gazette file photo
    Increased interest in buying local food throughout the winter, has led to more winter farmers markets like this one. Starting Saturday, CISA will hold the Winter Fares in conjunction with the ongoing markets in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gazette file photo<br/>Increased interest in buying local food throughout the winter, has led to more winter farmers markets like this one. Starting Saturday, CISA will hold the Winter Fares in conjunction with the ongoing markets in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield.
  • Gazette file photo<br/>Increased interest in buying local food throughout the winter, has led to more winter farmers markets like this one. Starting Saturday, CISA will hold the Winter Fares in conjunction with the ongoing markets in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) held the first Winter Fare in Greenfield five years ago to show consumers that even in the winter months, farmers have a lot to offer. Since then, CISA has expanded the event, which features workshops, music and bartering as well as food, to three additional communities.

Meanwhile, due to growing interest in buying local food year-round, winter farmers markets have sprung up in communities around the Pioneer Valley. So this year, starting Saturday, CISA will hold the Winter Fares in conjunction with the already established markets in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield.

Claire Morenon of CISA said that she and other staff members felt that the change was the best way to connect consumers with farmers who have products to sell even in the dead of winter.

“Especially because it’s CISA’s 20th year, we looked back on the kind of support we offer,” Morenon said. “The move from a few big markets to supporting the ongoing winter markets is the best way to encourage interest in eating local through the winter.”

On Saturday, Winter Fare events take place at Northampton’s winter farmers market in the basement of Thornes Marketplace from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at Springfield’s market in the former monkey house in Forest Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Amherst’s Winter Fare will be the following Saturday, Feb. 2, at the winter market at Amherst Regional Middle School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Greenfield’s event will be held that day at Greenfield High School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In addition to stocking up on products like vegetables, eggs, meat and maple syrup, shoppers can eat a hot lunch and attend free educational workshops about topics ranging from cheese making to herbal medicine. The Winter Fare farmers markets in Amherst, Greenfield and Northampton will all host barter markets as well, where people can swap their own frozen, canned or otherwise preserved food to diversify their pantries.

The Greenfield and Amherst markets will also have live music, Morenon said.

The four winter markets always accept SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps), but CISA will match the first $10 of all SNAP purchases in honor of Winter Fare.

The Northampton Winter Fare has drawn about 1,400 people in past years, and Morenon is hoping for a similar turnout of customers who might then decide to keep coming back to the regular market.

“The realm of winter markets is still relatively new in the area, but more customers are interested and more farmers are taking steps to have food available all year,” she said.

In addition to the four communities hosting Winter Fare events, there are winter markets in Easthampton, Athol and Hampden.

For more information on Winter Fare events or a list of farmers markets, visit www.buylocalfood.org. To volunteer at a Winter Fare event, email volunteer@buylocalfood.org or call 665-7100.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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