Find everything from microgreens to sauerkraut at Jackson’s new winter farmers-food market.
By john spina
THE WINTER PEOPLE’S Market is an oasis in a frozen desert. Open the doors of the Teton County Fair building, walk inside, and the cold, gray Wyoming winter transforms into a vibrant market full of light, music, laughter, and, most improbably, fresh locally grown and produced food. An extension of the Jackson Hole People’s Market, a weekly farmers market that runs from mid-June to mid-September at the base of Snow King, the Winter People’s Market was first held in December 2016. Organizers—the nonprofit group Slow Food in the Tetons—had no idea how it’d go. “It was an experiment,” says Scott Steen, the group’s executive director. Kind of like the Summer People’s Market.
Today, the summer market is wildly popular, with as many as fifty vendors and 600 shoppers, as well as live music each week, but when it began in 2010 that wasn’t the case. The market “scraped together a few vendors each week for the first few years,” Steen says. It lived in the tiny parking lot of the Redeemer Lutheran Church by the Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center until 2013. But today, “The summer market is a community celebration,” Steen says. “Everyone comes together, you bring your family, you climb on the bouldering wall, you have a beer, you go to Cosmic Apple and buy some veggies, you go and fill up your beer again, you listen to the music.”
IN NOVEMBER 2016, Slow Food in the Tetons began to wonder if it could extend this community celebration into and through the winter. “The Summer People’s Market was so popular among vendors and the public that we wanted to try and offer it in the winter,” Steen says. The first Winter People’s Market was held the next month. “The goal was to make the winter market as festive as possible, and for people to enjoy the music and wine, but we weren’t sure what kind of showing we’d get,” Steen says. Because of the success of the Summer People’s Market, it wasn’t vendors that were the question mark—many were happy for an extended selling season, and there ended up being about twenty-five of them—but shoppers.
Organizers’ hopes were for the winter market to have the same vibe as the summer market. Last year that wasn’t the case, but Steen says it wasn’t in a bad way. While summer shoppers come for music and to see friends, “Folks were [at the winter market] mostly to find food,” he says. Each of the monthly markets drew about one hundred shoppers. Poa Van Sickle, owner of the vendor Daily Roots, says, “The winter market wasn’t as social as the summer, but I liked it. It felt like people were coming and seeking you out in search of local food rather than just randomly checking it out as they walk by during the summer. It definitely boosted my exposure. I think we all did pretty well.”
And it’s not like the market was antisocial. “At the market, people really want to talk with the guy who’s growing their food and feel connected with it,” says Curtis Haderlie of Haderlie Farms. “I’m really hesitant to give up that one-to-one relationship I have with the people. There’s a real sense of community.” Other vendors last winter included Vertical Harvest, Maya Organics, Nomadic Bean, Blacker Arrow, Jackson Hole Winery, Lockhart Cattle Company, and Glory Bowl Soup Company. Haderlie Farms sold off the last of the season’s carrots and spinach. Vertical Harvest sold fresh veggies grown in its greenhouse. Daily Roots sold fermented vegetables and shelf-stable foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut. Lockhart Cattle Company sold fresh meat and milk. “It’s fun to see what you can get fresh here when there’s feet of snow outside,” Steen says.
The Winter People’s Market is held from 2 to 6 p.m. every other Saturday from December through April at the Teton County Fair Building at 350 W. Snow King Ave. tetonslowfood.org