Patch sat down with Allison Milchling, Fresh Checks Program Coordinator for the Crossroads Community Food Network to find out what's going on with the Crossroads Farmers Market this autumn.
1. What can market goers expect from the autumn selection at the Crossroads Market?
We will have the same producer-only fall favorites as last year with some new additions. This fall has the broadest selection in Crossroads Farmers Market history. Tuckey's Mountain Grown sweet potatoes and wide variety of apples will be in full stock for the rest of the season. Rosa Linares will have a variety of squashes you can't find anywhere else close by. But thanks to the pilot season of Market to Mealtime nutrition demos, we've created a big demand for leafy greens. Musachio and The Farm at Our House will have amazing kale, collards, swiss chard, to name a few.
As far as special fall prepared foods, new this year is arroz con leche, a warm rice pudding-style drink. My favorite thing about fall at Crossroads will always be atol de elote. Atol is a warm Salvadoran sweet corn drink that has come to be the taste of fall for most Crossroads regulars.
2. How late into the fall will the market be open?
This year our last day will be Wednesday, October 31. We will be celebrating this season by collecting feedback from our community so that next year we can continue to better serve our surrounding neighborhoods. We are a community gathering place as well as a market and can't wait to take the time to learn from our invested shoppers. Hourly discussions over bowls of soup will be a fun way to end the season with our friends and partners all while the market is in it's last full swing of the year.
3. As the market season winds down, what will the food network be doing to work with and help community members?
We hope to glean a lot from the community needs assessment project throughout the winter. In the spring we will reveal its harvest with a big kickoff event. Crossroads Community Food Network will be starting another season of school nutrition programs- this time branching out into four area elementary schools. We'll also continue to move forward on establishing programs around an eventual commercial community kitchen. Our goal is to provide those in our community a path to micro-entrepreneurship through value-added products.
4. How can community members get fresh food throughout the fall and winter when the market is closed?
On Sunday, October 7th, we are hosting Hops for the Hungry: A Benefit for Fresh Checks. In order to keep providing our double-dollar program that makes it easier for families receiving federal nutrition benefits to afford fresh, local food for the rest of this year and the future, we are asking everyone to join us! We'll be pairing Keswick Creamery's award-winning farmstead cheeses with Takoma Park's new neighbor, 3-Star Brewing Company's craft beers. All proceeds directly fund our Fresh Checks program. The event is at Crossroads.BrownPaperTickets.com.
When the season officially ends at market, we will still be doing SNAP outreach throughout the winter so that families and seniors get connected to a way to buy fresh foods.
As for having quality, local food in the winter, there are year-round markets in our Eat Fresh Maryland network we encourage everyone to visit. We hope people have been planning ahead and storing produce for the winter. Who knows, if you're in the PTA for your child's elementary school, you might find yourself in one of our preserving demonstrations. Because winter is naturally the time of year where such a limited amount of food can be grown, I hope that everyone has had the foresight to have Musachio blueberries stored away in their freezer for a taste of summer mid-January.