Oxford Farmers Market vendors who embraced the winter cold

Oxford’s Farmers Market began its summer season Saturday. The market meets every Saturday morning between 9 a.m. and noon in the parking lot adjacent to the Oxford Memorial Park at the corner of Church and Main Streets.

At the height of the season, Oxford’s Farmers Market has around 4 dozen vendors offering a wide variety of seasonal food and crafts. Fewer vendors are there at this time, as most are still awaiting the last frost to plant crops that won’t mature until summer.

As we look ahead in the weeks ahead to the bounty of summer produce, this is a good time to say thank you to vendors who set up every Saturday through the winter. I want to give a shout out to five who were there every cold dark winter Saturday morning. They are in alphabetical order:

Jennifer Bayne’s 7 Wonders Farm. The variety and quality of Jennifer’s produce through the winter was truly astounding. Lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, carrots, mushrooms – I could fill the entire column with her bounty. And pasture-raised pork, chicken, lamb, and turkey. Jennifer’s secret was hoop houses. And Jennifer managed the winter market.

Craig Harkrider’s Stoney Hedgerow Farm. Craig’s two most special produce are garlic (many varieties – discuss with him the best ones for you) and shallots (much milder than onions). Craig also brings in the multi-colored eggs photographed for the Easter Day column. Most years he has an abundance of peppers and squash.

Jana and Donald Harmon’s Caraway Farm. The Harmons kept us in local beef through the winter. Pasture raised and finished American Galloway cattle. Their beef is far more flavorful than the supermarket stuff. I usually opt for ground beef for hamburgers, chunks for stew, and filets for grilled steaks.

Kristi Hutchinson’s 5 Oaks Organic. Kristi has been a fixture at Oxford’s Farmers Market for as long as I can remember. She specializes in lettuce, spinach, arugula, and radishes.

Sasha and Mike Symon’s Birch Creek Bakery. I am devoting more space to them because they just joined Oxford’s Farmers Market in January, so some of you may not have met them.

Sasha and Mike were a Miami Merger three decades ago and hadn’t been back to Oxford since then, until they were recruited by Jennifer Bayne to join the Oxford Farmers Market in January. We faithful winter market-goers assured them that better weather would bring out many more shoppers.

My favorite (stone milled whole grain wheat) is I believe the best bread I’ve ever eaten. And the French in me loves their Gateau Breton, a labor-intensive cake made with unbleached hard wheat flour, malted barley flour, and a mountain of butter.

Oxford’s Farmers Market is a special asset for our community. As I’ve written, I was recently in Florida for a month, and the Farmers Market there at the height of the season had less fresh produce than did Oxford’s Farmers Market in the depth of winter.

MOON Co-op Grocery is Oxford’s consumer-owned full-service grocery featuring natural, local, organic, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products. MOON Co-op, located at 516 S. Locust St. in Oxford, is open to the public every day. See it online at www.mooncoop.coop.

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