Farmers’ Markets Undergoing Seasonal Shrinkage


Perfect multihued cauliflowers from Kernan Farms of Bridgeton, New Jersey, at the Abingdon Square Saturday market. This is their last week till spring, also at their St. Marks Church (Tuesday) location.

While Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, it also marks something somewhat less joyful — the end of the harvest season. Indeed, as I shopped at the Abingdon Square market (and at the Union Square market on Wednesday), several vendors reported that they were hanging it up for the year, to return in the spring.

Some farmers just don’t want to hunker down in the market during the cold and snowy winter next to their kerosene heaters and gas-fueled generators (yes, those same heaters and generators that Mayor Bloomberg confiscated as a safety hazard and declared illegal at Zuccotti Park). Not only is that a cheerless existence, but many farmers don’t specialize in the over-wintering produce — like potatoes, rutabagas, hard squashes, and apples — that can be carefully stored and sold until spring.

Besides, that’s the very meaning of “seasonal.” You just can’t get certain things all winter long, and are either consigned to buy the Chilean-grown substitutes at Whole Foods or Food Emporium, or to go without.

Still, the preponderance of early heirlooms and other ripe tomatoes this year earlier than ever in the spring, suggests that farmers are switching over to greenhouse cultivation for certain big-ticket items. Which means, I suppose, that we’ll be seeing fresh tomatoes in the Greenmarkets all winter long. Shiver or no shiver.

The post-harvest market shifts into gear at Union Square, stocked with baked goods, winter squashes, lavender pillows, jarred jams, and apples, apples, and more apples.

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