For the first time, The Easton Farmers Market, which bills itself as the nation's oldest open-air market, is moving indoors for the winter to turn the market into a year-round weekly event.
Many of the vendors that come to the Centre Square market during the warmer months will be moving their wares indoors to the Nurture Nature Center at 518 Northampton St. in the city.
Twenty vendors will set up shop at the market, which debuts this Saturday. Items such as fresh seasonal produce, pasture-raised meat and eggs, wine and baked goods will be available for sale.
Megan McBride, the market's manager, said extending the full-service gourmet growers market through the winter months just makes sense for customers, vendors and the city.
“People don't want to stop eating local when November comes around,” said McBride.
She noted that fresh produce, such as leafy greens, can be grown for a much longer season – making them available to buy into the winter months thanks to grant money that many local farmers have received in recent years to erect greenhouses, tenting and tunneling systems.
Plus, she said a big part of the mission of the farmers market is to draw people downtown.
“This market brings people downtown, especially in the winter when people tend to avoid going downtown,” said McBride.
She said merchants and restaurants in the downtown report that sales go up between 25 and 50 percent during the hours the open air market is open, and she expects similar results from the indoor market.
She also hopes to extend the impact of the farmers market by its location in the Nurture Nature Center.
“The location is very strategic,” she said. “It's the gateway between the West Ward and the downtown.”
The indoor winter market already has a built-in customer. It will be located right by the Two Rivers Brewing Co., a new brew pub set to open in a few weeks. McBride said the pub plans to purchase fresh local produce from the market, even featuring weekly farmers market specials.
The market will continue throughout the winter months on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.