Your Time: The Amherst Winter Farmers Market

Photos and text by Jerrey Roberts

Last Saturday, the Amherst Winter Farmers Market hosted Winter Fare, an annual event offered by CISA, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, a regional nonprofit that works to strengthen local agriculture.

The event, held at Amherst Regional Middle School, brought the two organizations together for the purpose of drawing people to one of the area’s increasingly popular winter markets.

Hundreds of shoppers chose from an array of winter vegetables, from carrots and beets to potatoes, cabbages, greens and onions. Just about everything from soup to nuts was available: herbal products and soaps; maple syrup, jellies, sauces and spreads; candies and nuts; grass-fed meats; wool blankets; hats and sheepskins — even marrow bones for dogs.

In addition to the 30 vendors at the market, local professionals gave talks on a range of topics.

Lydia Irons, a massage therapist who also has a business called The Flexible Farmer, offered tips for keeping the working body in tune. Brittany Nickerson, owner of Thyme Herbal, talked about ways to strengthen the immune system. David Lovler discussed compost and vermiculture, and Lynda Balk of Balky Farm provided information on needle felting.

Youssoupha Sidibe and French Press played music near a sitting area where shoppers noshed on lunch and snacks.

Jeff Felberbaum of Amherst sat on the floor with his 20-month-old son, Noah, as Sidibe played the kora, an African harp.

“The music is of the highest caliber,” Felberbaum said. “It’s like a free concert.”

Over the last two years, the number of vendors at the market has grown about 40 percent, according to its organizers.

Tamsin Flanders, manager of the market, called the day a success. “There’s been lots of interest in the workshops, which is exciting to me,” she said. “I want this to be a space for free learning opportunities for the community.”