With winter rain and early twilight hours, it can sometimes to be difficult to keep moving and eat healthy. But thanks to the many intrepid vendors of the Olympia Farmers Market you can find fresh food, handcrafted goods, live music, and a warm covered walkway to spend your Saturdays out and about in Olympia.
The Cleveland Clinic admits that “chilly winter weather affects more than just your wardrobe and heating bill. Your body also experiences changes in energy levels, metabolism and even food prefer.” The health advocates suggests regular exercise and such winter food staples as seasonal vegetables and whole grains from year-round markets.
Whether you’re looking for a gift or just browsing the aisles, the Olympia Farmers Market has something for everyone. If custom metal art for your home or garden is on the list, visit Lynn McClune at Metal Works Design and Cut. He is a local metalworker who has had his Olympia Farmers Market booth for almost a decade. McClune accepts orders for custom pieces primarily January through March and October through December, but will work with customer requests as they arise.
Not surprisingly, given our local passion for all things Northwest, McClune’s most popular items are handcrafted fish and herons. The Olympia Farmers Market is his primary shop front that “has been well worth my time.” On site access to “good organic food and live music” is also a plus.
If you just want a pop of color, indoors or out, cross over to I & E Enterprises for a visit with Inge Freinwald and her 95-year-old mother, Maria. Inventory varies by season but always includes offerings from one of their many greenhouses. Selling at the market for more than 25 years, Freinwald enjoys the many repeat customers she’s met and served.
In early spring, I & E offers small potted flower bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, as well as stuffed fleece teddy bears made with her daughters. The youngest daughter sews the bodies, Inge stuffs and finishes the bears, and the older daughter—who lives nearby—helps with the finished product. There are also bunches of feathery pussy willow buds which make a striking indoor display. By April, the stand exclusively sells flowers, and in the fall, home-made tablecloths are brought in for the holidays.
For foodies, health nuts, or just those hungry from all the cold-weather walking, Rising River Farm is the place to find delicious organic produce. Owner Jennifer Belknap explained that they have been selling at the Olympia Farmers Market since 1994.
Belknap admits that in the winter “it’s a little bit of a gamble, weather-wise, but this time of year we’re all craving that fresh food.” From a 15-acre farm in Rochester, she and partner Jim McGinn love to “push boundaries with our planting” to provide the best product, year-round. Fall and winter staples are squash, leeks, kale, root crops, lettuces, herbs, greens, and carrots.
Rising River Farm sees many repeat customers like Jeanne Allan. This rainy Saturday, she explains that “I’m here because I care and I’m delighted they’re here. I don’t want them to go away; I know the people and I really like them. I come as often as I can.” She visits frequently because she acknowledges that even small, regular purchases can make all the difference to hardworking local vendors.
Want the benefits of fresh produce, without having to wander aimlessly? Ask about a Rising River Farm CSA. With subscription, you’ll receive regular boxes of vegetables and herbs that can be picked up at the Olympia Farmers Market or other locations around town.
The opening day for the 2016 market season will be Thursday, April 7, with many new vendors (there’s still time to sign up if you’re a local craftsman), activities, sights, and smells. The Market accepts EBT cards, WIC checks, and Senior checks for payment as well.
The Olympia Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. January through March. With a sturdy roof and lots of free-standing heaters, it makes for a perfect escape from mid-winter cabin fever.