PROSSER -- A nip of frost put an end to farmers markets throughout the Mid-Columbia, except in Prosser.
There, hardy vendors and customers just moved indoors into two large concession booths in the park.
Kathy Aubrey, president of the Prosser Farmers Market board, has wanted to extend the season into the fall and winter months for years.
But Linda Hall, longtime manager of the summer Prosser Farmers Market, said 26 weeks is enough for her.
So in 2012, Aubrey said she'd take on managing the additional months and launched the Winter Farmers Market.
Merritt Mitchell-Wajeeh of Heavenly Hill Harvest Farm in Sunnyside was one of the vendors who stuck it out past frost last year.
She said the winter market was "absolutely successful, a great idea."
Mitchell-Wajeeh has several greenhouses that enable her to plant earlier than growers who plant outdoors, and this extends her harvest well into winter, even though they're not heated.
"The greenhouses protect my plants enough that even as they go through a cold shock, they don't die. In fact, the sweetness level goes up in things like carrots and beets and kale. They take on an entirely different flavor than what you get in the summer. There's a whole new complexity to the flavor," Mitchell-Wajeeh said.
The concession booths are perfect for the indoor market.
"I can fit up to 18 vendors in both buildings," Aubrey said. Plus she said she has a couple of heavy-duty tents to handle any overflow.
Space heaters help keep the customers and vendors warm, if not toasty.
"You just dress for the weather," Aubrey said.
This year, the market board paid to insulate both buildings.
When the winter market opens today, Aubrey said vendors will have potatoes, apples and winter greens like kale and chard. There also will be winter squash, some melons and any veggies that were protected from Mother Nature's cold bite.
Other vendors will be selling jewelry, breads and organic tea blends. The market sells baskets and cheeses.
"There's even wine tasting," Aubrey said.
Two Prosser wineries are regulars: Daven Lore Winery and Prosser Vineyard & Winery.
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