All summer, Brooke and Bill Cordray bought fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs from producers at the Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park.
When the market closed in late October, "It was so hard to go back to the regular grocery store," said Brooke.
But a new winter market that launched Saturday means the Salt Lake City couple and dozens of other local shoppers can keep buying fresh food straight from the source even during the off-season.
At the inaugural winter market, sponsored by the Downtown Alliance, nearly three dozen farmers and producers gathered inside the Rico Warehouse at 545 W. 700 South to sell apples, potatoes, onions, carrots, squash and tomatoes as well as bread, pork, cheese, jam and granola. Several Salt Lake City food trucks were parked outside, and live music kept the atmosphere festive.
The winter market will be held just once a month through April and will take place at a different Salt Lake City location, said Alison Einerson, market manager. The next "pop up" event will be Saturday, Dec. 15. The location will be announced in a few weeks on the Downtown Alliance's website, slcfarmersÂmarket.org and on Facebook and Twitter.
Earlier this year, the Downtown Alliance received a $90,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farmers Market Promotion Program to help establish a new winter market. The money pays for, among other things, Einerson's part-time salary and promotions. A large portion of the funds also will be used to train farmers in winter-food production. The workshops, offered through Utah State University Extension Services, will educate farmers on how to build hoop houses, high tunnels and greenhouses as well as teach them the best plants for Utah's climate and how to store late-harvest vegetables.
If the monthly market proves successful, the Downtown Alliance hopes to make it a weekly event next winter, said Einerson. Eventually, the hope "is to have a full year-round public market."
Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, who helped start the People's Market and is the chairman of the Redevelopment Agency, was impressed by Saturday's turnout. "It proves that Salt Lake City is ready for year-round market," he said.
The Utah State Fairpark is also offering a winter market on the first and third Saturdays of each month through March 16.
On Saturday, it had fewer vendors and attendees than the crosstown event. But Scott G. Smith, of Smith's Orchards in Provo, said the Fairpark's history as an agricultural center and its proximity to the new TRAX line on North Temple scheduled to open in April make it an attractive market location.
"This is where my grandfather came to find out about the latest agriculture news and inventions," he said. "It could easily become that again."
No matter where it's held, a winter market is a good solution for producers like Julie Clifford, of Clifford Family Farm in Provo. She said once the summer market ends, it's difficult to continue to sell her farm-raised eggs, honey, pork and chickens.
"I have chickens that keep producing," she said, "so it's nice to stay in contact with customers."
She's likely talking about customers such as Kim Cogsdil, of Salt Lake City, who purchased potatoes, carrots, herbs, greens and decorative corn on Saturday.
"If it is a side dish for Thanksgiving," she said, "it's in one of these bags."
Farm fresh in the winter
The summer market season has ended, but Utahns can still get fresh foods straight from the source at three new winter markets.
Downtown "pop up" market • Sponsored by the Downtown Alliance, this winter market will take place once a month at a different Salt Lake City location. Fresh produce, local meat, cheeses, dairy products and baked goods will be available. It runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit slcfarmersmarket.org for dates, times and locations for markets offered December through April. Or follow at facebook.com/slcfarmersmarket and twitter.com/SLCWinterMarket.
State Fairpark Saturday market • On the first and third Saturday of each month, through March 16, vendors will sell produce, food products, crafts and holiday items at the The Utah State Fair Park, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Closed Dec. 15 and 29). For information, call 801-538-8400 or visit utahstatefair.com/wintermarket
Wheeler Farm Sunday market • Produce and other items from local venders will be sold on the first Sunday of every month at Wheeler Farm, 6351 S. 900 East, Murray. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through March. The next event is Sunday, Dec. 2. For details, visit wasatchfrontfarmersmarket.org.