The Maine farmers’ market community is very active during the 2021 holiday season. The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets reports that over 25 farmers’ markets across Maine stay open through December to offer shoppers delicious local food, drinks, and crafts. While some markets move indoors, others stay outside or embrace a hybrid model based on their locations and vendor preferences. MFFM hosts the whole list of winter farmers’ markets on their website mainefarmersmarkets.org.

Shoppers can expect quite the abundance of meat, produced, baked goods, processed foods and crafts available at markets throughout November and December. Depending on the market shoppers may find lots of fresh produce still in season, including kale, salad greens, apples, pears, and cranberries, and storage crops like carrots, cabbage, onions, winter squash, turnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, to name a few. Beyond produce, shoppers will find seafood, pork, beef, poultry, mushrooms, dairy, eggs, cheeses, and many craft food items. “Winter farmers’ markets keep us connected to our shoppers year-round. Winter sales provide a lot of help and needed cash to us farmers during the darker months” says Mark Guzzi of Peacemeal Farm, and board chair of MFFM.

More than half of the holiday markets participate in the Maine Harvest Bucks program, where SNAP/EBT shoppers earn bonus Maine Harvest Bucks to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. This year, the program has already provided over $200,000 in local fresh fruits and vegetables to shoppers using SNAP/EBT.

Every winter farmers’ market is unique. Up in Caribou, many of the vendors from the Presque Isle Farmers’ Market will venture inside the MicMac Farms Store location (in Caribou) for their winter market, which runs every Saturday through December. The Kittery Community Market is bringing the tradition of European outdoor winter markets to Kittery again this year! We will be hosting special events on Dec. 5 and Dec. 19. There will be festive live music, fresh produce, meat, dayboat caught fish, prepared foods, spices, sauces, baked goods, gluten-free and vegan options, knife & tool sharpening, as well locally made artisan crafts such as hand-blown glass, pottery, art prints, sea glass art, scarves, handwoven items, and jewelry.

The Rockland Farmers’ Market is experimenting with a holiday winter market for its first time this year. The market will be hosted at the Rockland Recreation Center on 3 different Thursdays in November and December. “The holidays are a great opportunity to get additional sales before our season officially ends”, says Logan Higger, one of the market’s organizers and a farmer/food producer at Sowbelly Butchery.

MFFM encourages interested shoppers to check their local market’s websites and/or social media pages before visiting. Expect covid protocols to be in place, including mask wearing and social distancing. All markets are following CDC guidelines and determine their covid-safety protocols as a group.

MFFM hosts the whole list of winter farmers’ markets at http://www.mainefarmersmarkets.org/winter-farmers-markets-2021-2022/.