CARBONDALE — Those who miss the Saturday morning summer ritual of a trip to the farmer’s market have another option, a trip to the winter market. Carbondale Community Farmers Market opened Dec. 1 at Carbondale Community High School.
Jill Rendleman, owner of All Seasons Farm in Cobden, shoppers can find some of the year’s best produce at the winter market.
“It’s perfect for Southern Illinois. We have perfect winter growing season,” Rendleman said. “Some of the most nutrient dense food we have through the winter, like spinach, greens and kale. Because it gets cold, they have a lot better taste than they do in summer.”
All Seasons Farm specializes in organic produce. Rendleman said a lot of the growers are committed using organic and sustainable practices.
Rendleman has sold produce and eggs at the market since it opened. She said it originally was created by Keep Carbondale Beautiful and Food Works. It started in Thomas School in Carbondale, but they soon outgrew that space.
The market is now in the lobby of Carbondale Community High School, just inside the doors on the north side of the building, every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. until noon. Please use the Walnut Street entrance. Parking is free.
Along with organic and sustainably grown produce like sweet potatoes, butternut and acorn squash, lettuce and greends, shoppers can find a selection of baked goods, crafts, teas, hioliday decorations, meats, eggs, cheese, herbs, mushrooms, sodas, herbal medicines, soaps, body products, crafts, homemade pet treats, jams, jellies, and other canned goods. Several vendors also offer ready-to-eat foods.
Sean Stuart of Stuart’s Sweets was selling brownies, cookies and miniature loaves of quick bread. Sean, a senior at Carbondale Community High School, began baking as a seventh grader.
“I’m a senior right now, so I am going off to college. The money is going toward college,” Sean said.
Richard Bochantin of Rick’s Garden Veggies and Plants was selling lettuce, kale, radishes and beets. Like Rendleman, he said the veggies like the cold weather.
Bochantin retired three years ago and began a small vegetable truck garden. He said he did not realize so many different varieties of food could be grown in winter in Southern Illinois.
“I’m supposed to be retired, but I am working harder than ever,” Bochantin said.
Kathy Ward of La Colina Linda farm was selling a selection of certified organic produce and gluten-free baked goods, along with canned pickled ginger. She said they are experimenting with canning to preserve from of the food grown at the farm.
“The other thing is this time of year the greens are sweet,” Ward said.
Ken Yamamoto was selling honey, beeswax food wraps and beeswax candles, giving a little honey education for free. He was teaching visitors to his booth about the color of honey.
The lighter honey was extracted in the early spring and is made with tree nectar, grasses and early clover.
“As the season goes on, it gets blended with blackberry pollen and other clovers, and the colors start to darken. By the end of the season, the honey is dark, rich amber color from wild flower pollen like sunflowers and Brown-Eyed-Susans.
This year the market continues to welcome SNAP customers with the Link Match double coupon program. Customers who receive SNAP benefits can use their LINK card to purchase SNAP-eligible foods at the market, and the Link Match program matches these purchases with up to $20 each week.