It’s hard to believe that this is the last blog post of 2016! What a wild and wonderful year it has been. My first management experience on a market Sunday resulted in the first ever time closing early. I think Chef Jay and I had rain every Sunday we were under the market tent, but we still saw many smiling faces, braving the rain and the elements to help support our local farmers and artisans. It’s really a great thing we’ve got going on here in Bridgeport!
Now that we are nearing the Solstice and the market has moved indoors, we don’t have to worry about the elements. But, our farmers still have to brave the cold and snow or rain to keep the animals fed and the winter crops protected from the elements. Even though the days are short and the nights long, some vegetables thrive. Greens such as mustards, tatsoi, kale, and other Asian greens love the chilly weather. Lettuce develops a sweetness that is unmatched by any summer lettuce you can find.
Besides not finding tomatoes and watermelon at the winter markets, another thing that might be in short supply is eggs. There is a common misconception that the cold is what slows down a hens egg laying over the winter. But, in fact, it is the daylight length that triggers a hen to lay an egg. Chickens need 14-16 hours of light a day to lay an egg. Some farmers and backyard chicken owners artificially light their coops in the winter to keep their hens laying through the winter. There are some that don’t, however, and I am one of them. Hens go through a process called molting in the late fall and early winter, where they essentially shed their feathers and get a fresh set for the upcoming year. This process takes a lot of the hens energy and most, if not all, don’t lay during a molt. Allowing the hens some time off over the winter allows them to molt and rest. Also, chickens tend to fare better in cold weather than hot weather. So, cherish those farm fresh eggs if you can get them!
Our farmers AND artisans have been busy gearing up for this Sunday’s Ugly Sweater Market. This is *the* market to shop local for your holiday cooking and gift giving needs. Stop by In A Jam to sign up for a jam of the month club. Or maybe soap is more your style. House on the Hill Soap Co is also offering a soap of the month club. Bonds Creek Farm will be there with a selection of JQ Dickinson Salt Works gifts for the salt lover in your life. The girls over at Dirty Hippie Creations have been working hard this week to bring you the best in holiday candle scents, many poured in festive jars and mugs. Jughead Pottery will be bringing along some great West Virginia mugs for the coffee and tea lovers in your life. Pair the mug up with some coffee from Quantum Bean Coffee and you have a dynamite gift. There are plenty of gifts available to please even the most discerning aunt or uncle on your list. So, be sure to pull out your ugliest sweater and come shop local for holidays this Sunday!
And from all of us at the Bridgeport Farmers Market, we’d like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!