Indoor Winter Farmers’ Market opens Saturday, Dec. 3 in St. Mary’s Gym, Oak Ridge
More than 30 Oak Ridge farmers, bakers and artisan crafters are moving indoors Dec. 3, for the seventh season of the Winter Farmers’ Market, open Saturdays through March, 9 a.m. to Noon in the gym at St. Mary’s School, 323 Vermont Ave., Oak Ridge. Customers may shop in person, or choose curbside pickup or home delivery through its Market-To-Go program.
“Every Saturday, the Winter Farmers’ Market in Oak Ridge brings local food and local folks together in a unique and fun way, with great food, live music, cooking demonstrations, free kids activities, artisan crafts and more,” said Rebecca Williams, director of Grow Oak Ridge, the local nonprofit organization that produces the market.
“We have two ways to shop again this year: in-person, and online through Market-To-Go.”
The indoor market offers an abundance of locally grown cool season produce like kale, spinach, lettuce, and gourmet mushrooms and even some locally grown tomatoes. It also carries free-range eggs, pasture-raised meats, tilapia, local honey, artisan breads, pastries, unique handmade bath and body products, and handmade gifts from local artisans.
The market offers a free children’s program each week as well. Nourish Kids Club offers kids 2 to 12 a veggie tasting, a fun activity, and $5 in Produce Bucks to spend at the market. Nourish Kids Club is sponsored this year by local businesses, Nourish Knoxville and the Y-12 Gives Foundation.
“In 2022, we distributed nearly $7,000 in Produce Bucks to children in the Nourish Kids Club,” said Williams. “More than 79% of parents said their children were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables after trying them at the Winter Farmers’ Market.”
Agricultural vendors include Zavels Family Farm, Gooseberry Knoll Farm, Spring Oak Farm, Enlightenment Acres, Wilson Family Farm, Alive and Digginit, Four Seasons Farm, Eco Rich Farms, and new farmers such as Beech Grove Farm and Musik Mountain Farm.
Specialty foods include pimiento cheese from Cooks on the Curb, and handmade breads, pies and cookies and treats from bakeries like VG’s Bakery, Handmade Toffee & Treats, and Bake That Dough, and homemade jam as well.
NEW this year are expanded ready-to-eat foods such as Italian meatballs, pasta and noodles from new vendor The Italian Apron. And Aunt Nazzira’s, which last year brought hummus, has expanded its ready-to-eat food offerings with items like garlic sauce, pita chips, baklava, and homemade chili to go.
Holiday gifts are again available, with crafters such as art, jewelry, birdhouses, embroidered items and more.
Nearly all the food products are also available for home delivery and curbside pickup.
“If you need convenience to purchase food, try Market-To-Go, an innovative online farmers’ market,” said Williams. “You have to order ahead through our website, GrowOakRidge.org, and then we will bring it out to you at the curb, or you can add home delivery in the 37830 zip code. This has been a lifeline for people who really cannot get out to the farmers’ market all summer, and we are happy to offer it again this winter.”
All products sold at the market are grown within 150 miles of the market.
Volunteers are welcome throughout the season, visit www.GrowOakRidge.org/volunteer to sign up.
As a charitable nonprofit, the market also offers a nutrition incentive program called Double Up Food Bucks. “We match SNAP/EBT (food stamps) spending, up to $20 per day, for fresh fruits and vegetables,” explained Williams. “This helps our food-insecure neighbors enjoy the farmers’ market too.”
Purchasing from farmers year-round strengthens the local food system and keeps farmers coming to Oak Ridge, Williams added.
“When you see a farmer selling with us in the wintertime, you know they’re trying to make a living, and it’s incredibly difficult to go six months without income. Please come out and support our Oak Ridge farmers,” said Williams.
The market will be open indoors every Saturday through March, except for Dec. 24 & 31. Visit www.GrowOakRidge.org for more information.