Local food, farm gifts offered

BOSTON – The Patrick administration is encouraging consumers to give locally produced gifts from farms across the Commonwealth this holiday season. A wide variety of products are offered by Massachusetts farmers, craftsmen and artisans.
“Buying local all season long connects families to our Commonwealth’s wonderfully diverse growers and food producers, supporting Massachusetts farms,” said Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Greg Watson. “A winter farmers’ market showcases the diversity of Massachusetts grown and produced products and is a perfect opportunity for community connection and camaraderie.”
Using DAR’s MassGrown comprehensive map, shoppers can find Massachusetts farms offering farm-raised turkeys and seasonal treats, wineries with wide selections, and nurseries with wreaths, poinsettias and holly for seasonal decor. DAR’s Local Holiday Food Buying Guide offers other holiday food and gift ideas. Check the Massachusetts Specialty Foods Association site for unique products available this season.
The 2014 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar, featuring photos illustrating Bay State farming, is also available for purchase. All photos were taken by amateur photographers who won the annual Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest. Proceeds from the $10 calendars benefit Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, a non-profit organization that works with teachers to develop classroom materials. The calendar features a winning photograph each month, as well as interesting facts about local agriculture.
Many communities organize holiday farmers’ markets that offer a variety of locally grown, produced and prepared food from farmers and food producers. These markets not only offer fresh fruits and vegetables, wine, cheese, eggs, meat, poultry, baked goods and preserves; you can also find handcrafted gifts and holiday decorations made by local artisans. Below is a list of upcoming holiday markets.
There are nearly 40 winter markets operating across Massachusetts this season. Fresh produce at winter farmers’ markets include winter squash, turnips, potatoes, carrots, apples and onions. Farmstead cheese, eggs, meat, fish, honey, maple products, apple cider, wine and a wide array of locally made specialty foods such as baked goods, jams and sauces are also available.
“Over the past five years, farmers and market managers have been hard at work responding to the demand for more local produce throughout the year,” says Jeff Cole, executive director of Mass Farmers Markets. “Take advantage of this opportunity to get the best possible local food and support local farms and open space,” he said. “Find and visit a winter farmers’ market near you.”
Mass Farmers Markets is a Waltham based non-profit organization supporting the development of farmers’ markets across Massachusetts.
Many winter farmers’ markets are located indoors for the comfort of both shoppers and vendors. Some are running weekly, while others are open bi-weekly or monthly, and most run through early spring.

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