Despite the cold winds, the Athens Farmers Market drew in many loyal customers Saturday afternoon.
A few brave vendors chose to stay outside during the market’s winter hours opposed to moving indoors to the Market on State.
According to an apprentice of Laurel Valley Creamery, it is easier to make connections with the customers outside.
“It’s nice being outside because there are less vendors and people can focus in more and we talk to more people,” she said. “I think it’s easy to make connections with people being outside in the winter.”Other outdoor vendors agreed. Marjie Shew of Shews Orchard, feels that it is more personalized outside because it is less chaotic and quieter.
According to Shew, it is more time consuming to set up inside and far too crowded for her taste. Being outdoors, on the contrary, makes it easier to get a rapport going with the customers.
“There are many reasons (to remain outside in the winter), but the biggest one is probably because I wanted an excuse to have a day off once in a while,” Shew joked.
The personalization of the whole experience is the apprentice at Laurel Valley Creamery’s favorite part.
“It’s such a wonderful way to personalize food,” she said. “Especially at this market, there is such a sense of community. It’s so much more fun than going to the store.”
Inside, many more vendors found benefits of the shelter offered by the Market on State during the winter season.
The tables of vendors spilled over the main isle-way into a secondary isle due to the impressive turn out.
The winter weather has not deterred sales. Some of the vendors of heartier foods benefit more during the winter season.
Shews Orchard’s biggest sales are in beef during the winter time and Laurel Valley Creamery’s farmstead cheese does best when people are craving heavier foods.
“We specialize in raw-milk cheeses which are really good for culinary uses and I think that people tend to cook a lot more during the winter,” said Laurel Valley’s apprentice. “I think that we sell more cheese in the winter even though the market is slower because people just buy more.”
Sarah Tucker of Sarah’s Sweets agrees that although one may assume a farmers market would be sparse in the winter, there are still plenty of foods that sell better in cold weather.
Tucker prefers the winter season because her rich chocolates, fudges and brittle are more appealing than lemonade or fresh fruits.
Although the heartier foods were most abundant, there were plenty of other fresh options, as well.
There was no shortage of greens. Shade River Organic Farm was just one of many vendors offering a variety of squashes, leafy greens and garlic amongst other things.
Star Hamilton from Shade River Organic Farm understands the difficulty of selling fresh vegetables during the winter.
“You can only grow and store so much,” she said. “And you can only sell what you grew.”
The variety of the market is unmistakable and, according to Sarah Tucker, it’s her favorite part of it all.
The vendors were not limited to foods. Some vendors offered items like candles, yarn, balms, essential oils and homeopathic remedies.
The vast options available to customers seemed to leave everyone in a good mood.Walking past the tables both inside and outside everyone was greeted with a warm smile and inviting conversation.
The Farmers Market is undoubtedly a family event. Kids were peeking over tables at heaps of candy and a vendor was giving away free honey sticks to children who looked adoringly at the display.
The sense of community was ever present throughout the market, allowing customers and vendors alike to feel welcome.
Although the air may have been chilly the nourishing foods and welcoming people made the Athens Farmers Market a success yet again after 40 years.