Winter can’t chill interest in local farmers’ markets

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Winter produce, baked goods, local meats, preserved foods and handcrafted items are a draw at Virginia farmers’ markets, many of which are open year-round.

“Virginia has enjoyed a 20 percent increase in the number of year-round farmers’ markets since last year,” said Tony Banks, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. “This is an excellent opportunity to purchase local foods throughout the year. And it’s important for producers to be able to sell year-round. Some of them have processed their products to storable food items like jams, jellies and breads that are local and farm-fresh. 

“Other producers have invested in high tunnels and greenhouses to provide fresh produce out of season for the year-round markets.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s national farmers’ market directory lists 141 markets in Virginia that are open during the winter, up from 116 last year. The oldest of those markets is the Historic Roanoke City Market, which issued its first licenses in 1882. The first City of Roanoke Charter authorized a municipally-owned market in 1884, and the first City Market building was completed in 1886.

“We find that once the fruits and vegetables go out, we have a lot of vendors who come in and sell greens, Christmas trees and other items,” said Jaime Clark, marketing communications specialist with Downtown Roanoke Inc., which manages the market. “And we have a number of crafters and artisans who hand-make items they can sell year-round.” Meats, cheeses, baked goods and flowers are also sold. 

Visit and use the market finder to locate a year-round farmers’ market near you: You also can search for farmers’ markets at

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