The Ithaca Farmers Market’s lesser-known cousin — the Winter Market — has everything one might need to get through the cold Ithaca winters, including fresh produce, donuts, artisanal products and prepared food.
Though it doesn’t boast the same long lines as the warm-weather Steamboat Landing market, shoppers have enjoyed stopping by to see some of their favorite vendors.
Open Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Triphammer Marketplace, the market will run through the end of March. Customers can either shop in-person or order online for contactless curbside pickup.
According to market manager Kelly Sauve, the winter market’s smaller size is typical.
“Obviously people have less crops, and some people decide to take the winter off, but we typically have anywhere from 25 to 30 vendors in the winter,” Sauve said.
The winter market has been an Ithaca staple for nearly a decade, though this is only the second year it has set up shop at Triphammer Marketplace after its previous locations at the Women’s Community Building and The Space at GreenStar.
Vendors are spread out in the atrium and a rented-out storefront. Those who don’t feel comfortable inside due to COVID-19 sell their goods outside in the parking lot or exclusively online.
The online marketplace — a new addition this year — has been a successful and convenient option for customers, according to Sauve. Some vendors, like Fatboy Bakery, rely on it exclusively.
“A lot of our really diehard customers aren’t really into being in a crowd, and so this is a really seamless way for folks to order from the couch, and I think it’s really encouraging people to shop at vendors they might not have considered before,” Sauve said.
Sauve noted the online marketplace has been so well-received that they hope to continue it even beyond the pandemic.
Ithaca College junior Madison Hertell shops at the winter market regularly — once every other week or so. She plans on making soup from the vegetables she purchased at the market this week.
“The farmers market is a nice thing to do on a Saturday morning. It gets me out of bed,” Hertell said. “I just like supporting local farms and buying locally so that’s a great option to have in the winter.”
Samantha Fountain ’22 loves the Hand Pies from Mama Said Hand Pies, and often stocks up on ingredients to ferment, like cabbage, potatoes and carrots.
“I know that my dollars are going towards really great people that are really passionate about what they do,” Fountain said. “And I know 100 percent of the time that it’s going to be the best meat or like the best vegetables I can get for my money.”
Both Hertell and Fountain agreed that the winter market feels very safe in terms of COVID risks, despite its indoor location. Vendors are well spaced out, masks are required, shoppers are asked to stay six feet apart and hand sanitizer is readily available.
Although the winter market attracts smaller crowds than the Steamboat Landing market, customers who do come out are happy to find some of their favorite vendors, according to Benjamin Stieler, a Littletree Orchards farmhand.
“This is a really beloved old Ithacan farm,” Stieler said. “At the spring market the donuts have a really long line, and I think people are ecstatic about getting the donuts at the winter market too.”
For Birgit Landowne, one of the owners of Blue Heron Farm, the winter market is a financial necessity. Luckily, sales have been pretty good both this year and last for her business, she said.
“We are very dependent on [the Winter Market] financially. It’s basically our only income right now,” Landowne said.
Landowne said Blue Heron often sells out of their fresh greenhouse vegetables early each morning. To meet demand, the farm is building three new greenhouses to increase the amount of salable produce for next winter.
In the first week of April, the market will move back outdoors to its Steamboat Landing location. But in the meantime, Sauve said she has been thankful that customers have been willing to stay six feet apart, wear masks and follow other COVID guidelines.
“We’ve gotten really good feedback about how safe the market feels, and I think people are just excited that there’s some continuity in service,” Sauve said. “It just gives us all some comfort in really trying times.”