Nibble guest blogger Alexis Kochka recounts a Saturday visit to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market and reflects on the culture of buying local.

Upon a recent visit to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market I was happy to see that New England’s farming heritage is strong and visible. Popping in to pick up a few things, I noticed that a lot of my Somerville neighbors had the same idea: to enjoy a Saturday morning among community and good food. The market is held in the old Armory—an expansive, unique piece of architecture that sticks out like a castle among Somerville’s double decker homes. Once a place for military drills, The Armory’s auditorium now hosts a bustling market on Saturdays.

The market includes a wonderful mix of local farmers and food artisans selling local and regional in-season produce and goods.  Breads, root vegetables, fruit, preserves, meat, honey, cheese, wine, and even seafood fill the arena. Each vendor I met with was happy to entertain my questions. “Where’s your farm?” “How long have you been in business?” Consistently, their answers conveyed the time and mindfulness that goes into producing their goods.The cornucopia of staples and treats looked fresh, smelled tasty, and were fairly priced. I stocked up on winter carrots, apples, squash—and picked up a few treats, like a cider doughnut that I devoured then and there with the excitement of a squirrel feasting on his first acorn after months of hibernation.  And I wasn’t the only one. Later I noticed that the doughnuts were sold out; apparently other squirrels at the market had sniffed out the cinnamon goodness.

Leaving the market, I felt pleased to have participated in the time-honored food culture of New England: eating what we grow, catch and store here—in a time of empty fields and stocked cupboards. It warms my heart that this tradition is alive and well in Somerville’s contemporary urban landscape. What’s more, I was thrilled to eschew a Saturday at a big grocery store buying produce that lacks the flavor—and the heritage—of a New England tradition. [Editor’s note: There are also vendors at the market, like Taza Chocolate, who import produce from far away yet practice fair trade and environmental sustainability.]

The Somerville Winter Farmers Market is held at Arts at the Armory every Saturday from 10-2, from January 8-March 28; we suggest getting there early as certain items (like cider donuts and fish) can sell out early. Participating vendors include Enterprise Farm in South Deerfield, Winter Moon Farm in Hadley, Stillman’s Farm in Hardwick, Apex Orchards in Shelburne, Cook’s Farm in Brimfield, Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown, Globe Fish Company in Boston, Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge, Great Cape Baking Company in Marstons Mills, 3 Little Figs in Boston, Seta’s Mediterranean Foods in West Newton, Q’s Nuts in Georgetown, Reseska Apiaries in Holliston, Elaine Hsieh, Chocolatier, in Somerville, Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Coastal Vineyards in South Dartmouth, Turtle Creek Winery in Lincoln and Zoll Cellars Winery in Shrewsbury.

The Union Square Farmers Market will begin June 4.