Fall flourishes at the Middlebury Farmers Market

By RATI SAINI

BENJY RENTON
The Middlebury Farmers Market runs every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from May through October at the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Exchange Street.

Vendors from all over Addison County congregate in Middlebury every Saturday for the Middlebury Farmers Market (MFM), with vendors selling an assortment of products including poultry, dairy, seasonal produce and crafts, accompanied by live music. The MFM is open outdoors every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from May through October at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Exchange Street. It moves indoors during the offseason.

The MFM works in collaboration with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), an association committed to certifying local farms and processors to the USDA National Organic Program Standards. According to their websiteNOFA “promotes organic practices to build an economically viable, ecologically sound and socially just Vermont agricultural system that benefits all living things.”

NOFA’s goals are carried out through various means. Paige Wener, a farmer from Green and Gold CSA (community supported agriculture), described the work she does and her interaction with NOFA. “Green and Gold is a farm and coop that primarily grows fresh produce and raises chickens,” she said. Some of the fresh produce on hand at the farmers market this weekend included various leafy greens, broccoli rabe and seasonal root crops. 

Green and Gold CSA also has honeybees on its property and holds spiritual retreats and special events, including harvest dinners during the fall and taco and tubing nights during the summer. Green and Gold is also a certified organic CSA that abides by “no till” and “low till” farming practices, where the disturbance of soil is kept to a minimum. Green and Gold pursues many of NOFA’s goals by participating in subsidized programs for low-income families. The Vermont Farm to Family Program is one such program, which offers coupons to needy families valued at $6 for produce; in return, Green and Gold receives reimbursement from the state. Crop Cash, a similar program used by other vendors, provides families with an EBT card with extra money to be spent on fresh produce.

Two other vendors at the Middlebury Farmers Market, Foggy Meadow Produce and Windfall Orchard, have both employed students from the college in years past. Foggy Meadow Produce, located in Benson, Vermont, is a small farm with just two full-time employees, and a few part-time, seasonal employees. They are open to the public and offer tours showcasing their equipment, heat tunnels and natural farming practices. Foggy Meadow only grows fresh produce, but they are able to stay open all year by using indoor heat tunnels. “Now that our fall crops are coming in, it’s time to harvest our roots and put them in our coolers and cellars in which we have space for 30,000 pounds of produce,” Foggy Meadow employee Janice Burton said.

Windfall Orcharda three-acre orchard located in Cornwall, Vermont, boasted several of its 80 varieties of apples this weekend at the MFM, including MacIntosh, Spartan and Twenty Ounce Pippin. “This week we have Bartlett pears and some new apples, like Hitchcock, a heritage variety with a pinkish interior. The Blue Pearmains and Honeycrisp are also new,” said James Kipp ’19.5, an employee at the orchard. 

Windfall Orchard also features an on-site tasting room with farmhouse and iced cider, as well as hard cider, open every Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. They are open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for picking and hold markets in Middlebury and Burlington every Saturday.

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