For Immediate Release - February 13, 2013

Massachusetts Agricultural Officials Encourage Support for Local Food and Farms This Winter

DAR officials ask Massachusetts residents and visitors to celebrate the extended season at winter farmers’ markets

BOSTON – Wednesday, February 13, 2013 – Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Greg Watson is reminding residents that access to Massachusetts grown and produced food doesn’t end when temperatures dip below freezing, thanks to an increasing number of growers and food producers equipped for extending the season. With approximately 40 winter farmers’ markets located indoors across the Commonwealth, residents are encouraged to support these local entities.

“Our growers are remaining viable by extending the season and participating in winter farmers’ markets,” said DAR Commissioner Greg Watson. “Eating locally all year long not only supports Massachusetts businesses, but it connects families to our state’s wonderfully diverse local food sources.”

As opportunities to eat locally grown even during the winter season grow, the MassGrown & Fresher Google Map can help residents and visitors easily find nearby markets.

Locally grown food builds community, supports local family-run businesses, preserves open working landscapes, benefits ecosystems and wildlife and, most importantly, tastes and looks better. Many winter markets also accept SNAP/EBT.

“We see approximately 800 customers every Saturday throughout the winter season and this year we have approximately 24 vendors, seven of which are new,” said Cambridge Winter Farmers’ Market manager Kim Motylweski. “The market’s success is a result of the vendors’ weekly commitment and a community that is very supportive of local agriculture. We also have great support from the City of Cambridge’s Department of Public Works and Community Development.”

The Cambridge Winter Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. through April 27, 2013 at the Cambridge Community Center, located at 5 Callender Street.

The winter markets offer an extensive selection of produce not usually available at a typical summer market. Farms sell both storage crops such as apples, several varieties of winter squash, onions, purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, candy cane beets, yellow carrots and watermelon radishes, as well as a variety of winter greens such as salad greens, spinach, kale and collard grown in hoophouses.

The diversity of food products continues to grow each year. This season, buyers will also find a growing number of local businesses including Massachusetts wineries, farmstead cheese makers, farm-raised meat, poultry and egg producers, fresh seafood and shellfish, honey and maple products, hand crafted pastas, sauces, jams and jellies, dry goods and fibers.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community in order to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr and follow us on twitter at @MDARCommish and @massgrown.