If you thought farmers’ markets were only in the Summer, think again! The Morris Winter Market kicks off in December and celebrates local purveyors, artisans, makers, and more.
We love a farmers’ market that goes through the Winter season. Given our weather during this time of year, was it tough to get vendors to sign on?
Thanks—we love the winter market too! Last year, when we moved outside, there was hesitation by vendors because of the weather. Preparing for a winter outdoor market takes more planning and resilience. It is cold out there, particularly standing for that many hours. With people’s businesses looking for a place to sell safely and local people needing a reliable place to shop because of COVID-19, we really were driven to make the market possible.
Some of our longtime vendors were unable to come, because the cold was going to be too difficult. We added new vendors throughout the season, revising our outreach beyond traditional vendors. Some of the vendors had recently started their businesses born out of a change in people’s personal situations due to COVID-19. We had more vendors than we had space for. In addition, we made the decision to extend the season to help out vendors and customers.
Due to high attendance in the first season, it was surprisingly easy to have vendors sign on for the 2021/2022 winter market season. With the move, we were able to say yes to more vendors. The market really becomes its own community, forming a bond among vendors caring for each other and giving each other tips to manage a successful business. Customers seem to be very appreciative of the vendors’ efforts coming out in the winter.
Why do you think having the Winter Market is so important?
I think having a Winter Market is important for the local community and economy. The market gives small businesses an opportunity to sell their products all year round. These are businesses that may rely on markets as their main source for reaching customers. Spending locally puts money back into the area, because they are buying supplies locally and hiring local people. Plus our vendors are committed to sustainable practices that are beneficial to our own environment. If you have a chance to ask them about how they grow, raise and create what they sell, you will be amazed and it is wonderful for children to meet these people. Our vendors serve as educators about ways to support the environment as a consumer if you have the time to hear their stories!
The Winter Market encourages neighbors to get outside, creating a place to interact with each other safely. Many children came to the market last year, and it was one of the few places where they would see other people outside of their own families, particularly when schools were closed. We love to see people getting out- it’s great for the physical and emotional health of our community.
What has been the biggest challenge or surprise with running the Winter Market?
Just like any farmer or farmers market vendor would know, we operate at the mercy of nature. Weather uncertainty is one of our main concerns with running the Winter Market particularly now that we are outside. The whole operation preps for the market with this uncertainty in the back of their minds, because of the investment of time and product each week. We are always hopeful that we are going to be open. We take some bad weather blows during the season, but the sunny days always seem to make up for it.
Knowing that people bundle up and make the effort to come out in the cold weather is always appreciated and encouraged. Beyond supporting our vendors, we want to give people a reason to be active and connect with others in all weather.
Thinking ahead to the next Winter market, any changes or additions to look forward to?
Since the market has grown in size, we would like to further enhance the market experience for our customers. Grow It Green Morristown is concerned about the health of the community and we want to curate a market experience that everyone can enjoy; a neighborhood place where people can shop, socialize, play and enjoy being outdoors, even in the winter. We would like to increase outreach to SNAP customers for the fresh food, and provide a place for the students from the 3 local universities to come as well.
Perhaps we can get the Colonial Coach to allow more people to reach the market who experiences hardships with transportation. We offer spaces each year to nonprofit organizations like us to reach out to the community too, and we can build on that with more activities and engagement with the community to learn about environmental and food justice issues.
We are looking for sponsorships as well. There are possibilities as well to offer live music and some public interactive art, and maybe an entrepreneurial class to encourage more minority and woman owned businesses.
Grow It Green’s Morris Winter Farmers Market
Sundays December–April, 9:30am–1pm
Convent Train Station in Morris Township