By Breana Cacciotti
ITHACA – One week after the Ithaca Farmers Market returned to its outdoor Steamboat Landing location, Lisa, who asked for her last name not to be used, is back for her monthly trip to the market to buy produce. She has two reusable bags in her hands, filled with seasonal produce but she notices there isn’t as much produce compared to previous years.
“I’m sure it’s tough for farmers this time of year, especially with the cold winter we’ve had, some vendors don’t have the vegetables they might normally,” Lisa said.
According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, this winter was colder than most on record. The Center found the Ithaca winter of 2014-2015 to have 25 days of below zero temperatures and February to be the coldest month recorded in the past 122 years.
Many farmers market vendors, like Stick and Stone Farm in Ithaca, have had troubles caused by the unusually cold winter this season.
Lucy Garrison, owner of Stick and Stone Farm, said this winter they had problems with their root vegetable storage containers freezing, causing them to lose their carrot supply.
Garrison said in the past they’ve had problems with their irrigation system and had to install circulating fans, but they try to work around the issues that come up.
“Every year is different in terms of the weather and the problems we encounter, so we are getting better at learning from those and improving our strategies,” Garrison said.
Garrison said although they’ve had problems due to the cold, they haven’t had to increase prices.
“We always try to grow a diversity of produce and increase our root vegetables to be ready for this time of year, because the winter weather is never predictable and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get all the produce you plant,” Garrison said.
At this time of the year, most produce available at the farmers market is root vegetables and greens such as spinach.
Another shopper at the farmers market, Bridget Coonan, said she is looking forward to when more produce is available later in the spring, but she has some worries about when fruit will be for sale.
“A lot of the fruits I bought when I visited the farmers market last fall aren’t for sale yet, it was mostly green vegetables and not many fruit, I’m hoping the cold winter didn’t delay when the farms will harvest their fruit,” Bridget said.
Cody Currier, market manager at the Ithaca Farmers Market, said there are currently about 15 produce vendors at the market, slightly fewer compared to previous years.
She also said she has also seen fewer people coming to browse the market because the weather has been colder.
“I think it’s certainly harder to get people to come out since it’s been chilly, our first day was slower than if it had been warmer,” Currier said.
Bridget said she noticed fewer vendors than when she visited in the early fall.
“I was excited to come to the farmers market again since I hadn’t been since last fall, but there definitely seemed that there were empty spaces for vendors that were full last time.”
Even though most summer fruits and vegetables aren’t yet available, Lisa still enjoys coming out to the farmers market this early in the spring and buying the produce she can.
“I’ll buy whatever produce is currently in season, what looks the best, I think it’s great to come out and support small, local farmers. I’ve lived in a lot of different places and I always frequent the farmers market in the area, I think Ithaca has the best,” Lisa said.