–by Jennifer Ruple
PUBLICATION DATE: 02.06.17
Food, fun and friendship warm the air
at the winter market
Even the bitter cold can’t keep the regulars away from the farmers market in downtown Toledo on Saturday mornings. “It’s the cream cheese croissant from All Crumbs Bakery and Gini’s coffee (Flying Rhino Coffee) that get me out of bed,” said Carol Kremer of Toledo’s Old West End neighborhood.
One of the best-kept secrets in town is that the Toledo Farmers’ Market, located at 525 Market St., is open year-round. Beginning in December, the overhead doors are lowered on the west end of the market, and the heat is cranked up for shopping on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through April. “It’s a great atmosphere, and the fact that its inside makes it even greater,” Kremer added.
During the winter months, the market offers apples, root vegetables, greens, beef and chicken, farmstead cheese, locally roasted coffee, baked goods, salsas and dips, honey, wine, plants, candles, soaps, jewelry, pottery and more.
The market, formerly owned by the City of Toledo, was purchased in 1996 by the Farmers’ Market Association of Toledo. Eight years ago, the association began its quest to operate year-round. “The first year, we had no heating system, but after that, we put in overhead radiant heat which really made a difference,” said Dan Madigan, market manager. “We can accommodate up to 35 vendors at the market during the winter. We do what we can to keep people coming back. It’s good for our businesses to keep them engaged with their customers throughout the winter months,” he added.
Considering the crowd that the market draws each weekend, it’s the place to be and to socialize with other local foodies. “The people who come are very loyal,” said Madigan. “We have people of every demographic coming together here.”
“We love being part of the market for many reasons,” said Corinne Cassis, owner of Sitto’s Bakery which offers handmade baklava, pita chips and date cookies. “Our products are unique, and we can speak directly with our customers. We really enjoy interacting with them and their families, and we look forward to seeing them every week. Another very important reason we enjoy the market is that it allows us not to have a store; the markets are our stores and therefore we can pass the savings directly to the customer,” she explained.
Mary Krueger of Lakewood Greenhouse in Northwood, Ohio, a family-owned business since the late 1890s, favors the winter months. “I think the winter market is more fun. People come down on the most brutal days,” she said.
In addition to offering a variety of produce and products, the market is a great place to learn. “There’s a lot of produce out there that people don’t know what to do with,” said Madigan. “The market provides a great opportunity to find out how to cook things from the people who grow them for a living.” For example, Andy Keil of Andy Keil Greenhouse sells black winter radishes. “They are something I can harvest in the winter. You just slice them and soak them in salt water and snack on them,” he suggested. Leeks, kohlrabi and parsnips are also available at Keil’s booth.
This winter, warm up at the market, and experience what brings the regulars back week after week. “It’s a place to meet great people. I come every week to support the people here,” said Micah Graber. “There’s always something going on.”