List of year-round markets keeps growing

Used to be, if you had a hankering for locally grown carrots in the middle of winter, your options were limited. For years, the Morningside Farmers Market was pretty much the only year-round game in town.

Fortunately for lovers of authentic food, our opportunities to buy locally grown are blossoming, even in the winter.

It’s a simple case of supply and demand. (Isn’t it always?) As farmers discover that consumers are wanting to buy local produce in the winter, more and more find the financial incentive—and means—to install hoop houses: structures of translucent plastic hung over metal or plastic frames (hoops) that serve as unheated greenhouses, significantly extending the growing season. And as more farmers have food to sell in the cold months, more markets will be able to operate year-round.

The supply of wintertime markets has inched upward in recent years with Local Farmstand at Westside Urban Market, the Wednesday afternoon Decatur Farmers Market, the Tuesday afternoon Emory Farmers Market. But this winter, metro Atlanta seems to have hit a year-round-market tipping point—which I’m sure could be scientifically proven if I could remember basic calculus. But I can’t, so I’m going to rely on this anecdotal evidence: In addition to the above-mentioned markets, shoppers now also have year-round options in a Saturday morning Decatur Farmers Market, the new Wednesday afternoon Midtown Farmers Market and the new Thursday afternoon Cafe 10:10 Farmers Market in Douglasville. The Dacula Farmers Market, which launched at Rancho Alegre Farm in October 2009, also intends to operate year-round.

A few other markets will stay open in December: Chamblee Farmers Market through Dec. 4, Green Market at Piedmont Park through Dec. 11, and Peachtree Road Farmers Market through Dec. 18. Sandy Springs Farmers Market plans to offer at least some winter dates. And many of the vendors at the Dunwoody Green Market continue to deliver pre-ordered items on Wednesday mornings throughout the winter. (To participate, sign up for the weekly e-mail newsletter at the market’s web site)

And let’s not forget the growing list of online pre-order markets at Check out a current list at the bottom of this Covered Dish post.

Clearly, this winter’s landscape is looking pretty promising for consumers of locally produced food. Calculus or not, the economic rule is pretty simple. The more we seek out local food, the more likely it is that additional opportunities will present themselves.

Support the loconomy, and it will sustain you.

(Image: Emory Farmers Market welcomes visitors. Park at the Peavine visitor parking lot off Oxford Road and walk up Dickey Drive past the Anthropology Building; the market is on the right at the Cox Hall Bridge.)