(Photo by Carrie Jones Ross)

Kingston Farmer’s Market has been an airy uptown summer-to-autumn event where people can connect with fresh local produce, crafts, homespun sauces and each other. Now the community will soon be able to access farm products and their winterized apparitions such as frozen vegetables and fruits turned into jams; cheeses, meats and more throughout the winter and spring as well. The event will take place in Bethany Hall of the Old Dutch Church on the first and third Saturdays between 10AM and 2PM, slated to be open December through April in Kingston Farm Market’s first foray into a winter farm market.

Winter farm markets have been cropping up throughout the region, drawing shoppers to Gardiner, Saugerties, Rosendale, Poughkeepsie and New Paltz. Winter Sun Farms and Kingston’s new Farm to Table owner Jim Highland explained that the local concept of the winter farm market originated more than four years ago in efforts to make pick-up of frozen winter food shares more accessible to the then- 250 members of his co-op. The concept of a winter market was well received, explained Highland.

“New Paltz at first was like, Oh, wow, this is great. And then it settled into, This is where I do my shopping.” Each year sees a 20 percent increase in shopper traffic in winter from the year before. “It has become a pretty big social event as well. It’s a shoppers’ market — not necessarily just a tourist market — people trying to get their supplies. Kingston is prime for this because we have people coming down from Kingston.”

Kingston’s winter market at Old Dutch Church will be not only a pick-up place for Winter Sun co-op members, but will also be the host in a space sized to hold more than 20 vendors as well, including Acorn Hill Farm, Bread Alone, Block Farm Tamales, Chocolate Revolution, Full Moon Farms, Hudson Coffee Traders, Highland Farms, Joia Foods, Luigi Oils, Maynard Farms, Ray Tousey Honey, Spacey Tracy Pickles, Winter Sun Farm, Wrights Farm and several crafts vendors.

“We are seeing more and more summer markets expand into winters,” said Hudson Coffee Traders owner Donna Brooks, who chairs the winter market. “It’s much more than a grocery store where people would see their neighbors and get together and visit. This is why Bethany Hall was a good fit for us. It would be spacious enough to allow that kind of thing to happen and for people to circulate. We will be making donations to Old Dutch Church. We are happy to support them. They are a cornerstone in the community and much beloved.”

Hot coffee, apple cider, hot chocolate and food demonstrations are on tap for the winter market, with more to be announced. The summer farm market hosts between 1500 to 2100 people in a week, and the group hopes to attract some of those same shoppers.

Kingston Farmers Market sought direction from the Farmers Market Federation of New York when contemplating doing this market, said chair Joe Fitzgerald. Vendors must be prepared with products that will sustain their customers through the winter, must have the ability to accept food-stamp programs, and must the capacity to handle the effects of snow and inclement weather.

“Our goal is to provide local produce and value-end items that come from this area, directly from the farmers to the public,” said Fitzgerald. “Otherwise the farmers might be selling their products wholesale, and this enables them to get a market retail price for their goods. Also it provides opportunities for work.”

The farm market was originally developed because the Kingston Uptown Business Association wanted to attract people uptown. An uptown presence is important. The rest of the community is involved, too. Area soup kitchens often benefit from donations of the summer’s unsold produce. Nutrition and farming education through story-telling, healthful demonstrations and artful crafts have long been a part of the market’s vision.

For more information, visit Kingstonfarmersmarket.org.