By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Western Illinois Sustainable Agricultural Society will sponsor a winter farmers market just in time for Thanksgiving shopping.
Market hours are 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday inside the Kroc Center, 405 Vermont.
"We just decided we wanted to try and have a locally grown market so people could put more locally grown food on the table for Thanksgiving. That's where the idea started from," Western Illinois Sustainable Agricultural Society Vice President Jessica Whiston said. "All of the food will be 100 percent from our local area."
Vendors will offer late fall produce grown in the garden or in high tunnels, plastic-covered structures like greenhouses that extend the growing season into the winter months.
Society member Mike Roegge will have tomatoes and greens available to sell. Whiston will have winter squash, spinach and greens, and other vendors will offer chicken, eggs, baked goods, herbs and honey.
"Eventually we'd like to have a market right before Thanksgiving and right before Christmas," Whiston said. "We're still trying to iron out the details, but we intend to grow it for the next several years."
Organizers hope the first-time event draws shoppers familiar with the farmers markets held in the summer months and people new to the idea of locally grown food.
Whiston said it's important for people to shop locally to keep small farms in business.
She and her husband Brad operate Terripin Farms near Fowler producing fresh vegetables and melons.
"We work really hard at what we do. We love what we do ... but without customers, we wouldn't be here," she said. "The quality of what we grow is a lot better than what you would find in a grocery store."
The sustainable agricultural society began talking about the winter market in July and appreciates the Kroc Center's offer of space to avoid any weather concerns while providing an opportunity for area residents.
"It would be nice to have local foods on the Thanksgiving table to give people something to talk about," Whiston said. "You could say this was bought from a farm right here as compared to shipped from (hundreds) of miles away."