While the Innisfil Farmers’ Market starts to plan for another new season, I thought it would be useful to talk about some of the resources available to support local food producers through the winter.
Several of the vendors who participated in the Innisfil Farmers’ Market also operate retail stores where their specialties are available to anyone willing to venture to their rural locations. Look for them on the Simcoe County Farm Fresh web site.
Another option that requires some advance planning is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) vendor. These are farms that sell a share of their crop directly to subscribers. Each CSA member receives a weekly selection of fresh-picked produce through the growing season as it becomes available. A year-round CSA operation is rare but available. Fees are paid in advance and members share both the risk and the bounty with the farmer. Some CSAs deliver to a pick-up point. CSAs can be found on the Ontario CSA Directory web site.
Finally, an easy and convenient option is to participate in the Good Food Box in your area. This is essentially a community-based wholesale buying ‘club’. Each month, volunteers sort and pack food that has been purchased in bulk into individual boxes of (mostly) locally sourced produce. ‘Local’ could mean the County or Ontario. A Good Food Box consists of staples such as potatoes, onions, and apples plus seasonal greens and fruit. A Small and Large selection is sold for a set price (S-$10; L-$15).
In winter the selection will include mostly root vegetables such as squash, turnip or beets as well as a few items such as bananas or oranges that are obviously not local. Good Food Box programs can be found throughout Simcoe County in Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood, Bradford, and Alliston. You have to order in advance for delivery each month. Click for more information about the Innisfil Good Food Box.
Update: I have just learned that the Innisfil Good Food Box is ceasing operation at the end of February but the decision does not affect the Good Food Box organizations in other communities.
Finally, if you have the time and space available, you can think about joining the rest of us gardener-types in dreaming about planting a new vegetable patch in a ‘few’ months!