Year-end bounty: Sourcing holiday meals at Silverton Winter Market

November 2019 Posted in Community, Food & Drink

By Melissa Wagoner

Holiday meal planning can be a great time to experiment with locally sourced foods, according to Sarah Brown, owner of Diggin’ Roots Farm in Silverton.

“Eating local around the holidays is a unique opportunity to raise awareness with family and friends about the abundance that we’re fortunate to have access to in the Willamette Valley,” she said, noting that even though the temperature has dropped, she and her husband, Conner Voss, are still offering certified organic mixed produce and pasture-raised meat.

“While our winter diets may change,” she admitted, “they can be amazing as ever if we take the time to get to know what is available to us and how to cook it. Eating with the seasons is a fun way to adopt new recipes into your family traditions while also preserving the farmers and farms that surround our local communities.”

And, with the Silverton Winter Market – held at the Friends Church at 229 Eureka Avenue on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon – making fresh produce, baked goods and other handcrafted products available throughout the year, shopping locally during the holiday season is easier than ever.

“The best thing for any local economy, the environment and our overall community vitality is to support as many local businesses as possible,” Nicole Gilchrist, owner of Blue Sky Fungi and vendor at the market, said. “We strengthen each other and our community at large when we keep our dollars circulating within local businesses. Not only do you get the best nutrition out of locally grown food, but everything you can buy locally reduces that item’s carbon footprint and makes us all better off for it as a whole.”

Gilchrist and her partner, Matt Toth, opened Blue Sky Fungi in 2018 and have been selling at the Silverton Farmer’s Market ever since.

Although Gilchrist thinks Blue Sky’s mushrooms make a tasty addition to a variety of dishes – soups, gravies and sauces – that is not why the couple was initially attracted to them.

“A love of fungi and the profound effects it had on improving both of our health was the primary driver for us to start growing our own mushrooms,” she explained. “It is hard to source quality reishi from places other than China, and we wanted to offer a more local choice.”

And Blue Sky Fungi isn’t the only booth offering a product marketed specifically with health in mind. Whole Circle Farms, owned by Peter and Rochelle Koch, markets a unique line of USDA certified organic hemp flowers and teas along with the CBD products often used to lessen pain and anxiety.

And just in time for the holidays, “We have a new product out,” Koch put forth, “great for a gift to a loved one in pain: Hemp Heat Packs. It goes in the microwave for two minutes and then can be applied on any area of the body that has pain. It is so exciting to see how well this works. It is a gift that keeps on giving.”

Also offering up a host of gift ideas and stocking stuffers is Diane Buhr from the The Buhrs and The Bees. She and her husband, Al, produce from raw local honey.

“Honey can be used in cooking, baking, beverages, gifts, gift baskets, hostess gifts, the possibilities are endless,” she enthused. “The beeswax food wraps also make a great gift or stocking stuffer.”

Or for a stand that has a little bit of everything, Morgan Yeates of Great Oak Farms provides handmade bath bombs, lip balm and soaps perfect for gifts under the tree as various types of meat.

“You really never know what we might bring,” she admitted, “but everything is either made or grown at our small farm. I believe that is it important to use everything we can off the farm, so we make soap from our goat milk and pig lard, we can and dry the fruits that come off the property, and we make decorations out of the feathers that drop from our birds. Sometimes our land creates more than we can use and so we make it available to our community.”

Also providing meat and poultry is Fisher Ridge Farm, owned by Ralph and Sue Fisher, who have been farming together since 1978.

“We are currently raising 65 turkeys to sell for Thanksgiving dinner,” Ralph said. “We will also have ham and a limited supply of bacon available.”

And for those who are looking for vegetables to round out the meal or act as the main dish, there is a bountiful variety provided by a host of vendors.

“Our specialties include greens,” said Mike Gage, who owns Blue Moose Farm with his wife Lacy.

Bill Schiedler, too, is providing for this winter’s marketgoers. The owner of Gardenripe, a farm that has been in his family since 1874, Schiedler advises anyone who has not tried homemade pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkins to do so.

“We have pie pumpkins as well as Sweet Meat squash which is an Oregon heirloom renowned as one of the best for pumpkin pies,” he put forth. “There’s no better way to source locally than to come to the market.”

But when planning important holiday celebrations around the farmer’s market it is still a good idea to plan ahead, preordering bulk produce and specialty meats ahead of time to ensure that vendors have what you are looking for.

“It is important to start early,” Yeates recommended. “Many farmers will take reservations and they run out early.”

But whether shopping for gifts, holiday dinner items or just the weekly meal prep, the vendors at the Silverton Winter Market are happy to share both products knowledge and recipe tips.

“Talk with your farmers,” Brown said. “We’re more than happy to provide suggestions and share our favorite dishes. I’d suggest reaching out to us before you pick what you want to make and we can support you in creating a meal plan that showcases the highlights of the season.”

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