Local Products Are The Focus Of Orleans Winter Farmers' Market

By: Ellen Chahey

Topics: Agriculture & Farming

Four-year-old Caleb Jones of Orleans holds the grocery bag while mom makes a selection.  BARRY DONAHUE PHOTO

You could do a whole December’s worth of shopping with one stop at the Orleans Farmers Market in the cafeteria of Nauset Regional Middle School on a Saturday morning. And everything you’d carry out is locally sourced and perhaps even benefits a charity.

If December shopping isn’t for you, this market will continue every Saturday through the end of April. Then it returns to its outdoor venue at Depot Square.

Cranberries, meats, jellies, cheeses, pastas, breads, herbal salves, crafts, cookbooks, sea salts, vegetables, soups, and winter solstice greens grown by pupils at the school are among the goods that await you, so you could even have a late breakfast or a light lunch (market hours are 9 a.m. to noon) while you listen to live music. On the first day of the indoor market, the Beet Greens were singing good old ‘60s-style protest songs such as “If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution.” Different musicians are invited for each week.

Last Saturday, about 12 vendors had set up shop, although there will usually be 20 to 25 as the event stabilizes, according to Heather Bailey of Orleans, vice president of the group that oversees the market and herself a vendor under the name of The Optimal Kitchen.

“Our bylaws are really strict,” Bailey said, adding that “everything [that is sold at the market] comes from Barnstable County.” They make exceptions for a few county-based nonprofits, such as one that sells crafts that help a charity in Haiti.

Many of the vendors plan to set up shop every week, Bailey said. Others may come every other week or just “on occasion.”

Customers, at least based on summer attendance, tend to come from Orleans to Wellfleet, said Bailey. “We also get a lot of Barnstable people. They make a day of it. They come and then they go to Snow’s,” she said of a trip that includes the famous Orleans department store.

One of the interesting options for sale were bee nesting houses. Lee Ann Norgeot, whose stall also featured pillows stuffed with balsam or lavender, and soaps and lotions made from home-grown herbs, explained that many pollinators don’t live in hives. Instead, they just like a safe place to lay their eggs. “I have one in my own garden,” she said of a sample nest about the size of an adult hand.

Laura McDowell-May of Seawind Meadows in Dennis proclaimed her Scottish Highland cattle “grass fed and grass finished, so high in omega-3.” She had lots of cuts – all frozen in coolers – and, because they are closing their pork farm to concentrate on beef, was offering a special: buy two breakfast sausages and get one free. She even had suet, for bird feeders or sausage, and had a couple of calves that were getting ready to take part in live crèches.

Turnip jam? Really?

Yes, you can buy it at the stand of Bill Waldron, who was selling it along with soups, breads (including gluten free), and many other flavors of jams, jellies, and marmalades. Some come gift-wrapped.

Waldron said that most turnip-themed food goes best at the Eastham Turnip Festival, but not too many people are interested in turnips after that. Instead, he was doing a good business in soups, including kale, chicken-mushroom, sweet potato, butternut squash, and split pea.

Have you ever driven down the road in Harwich near the cranberry bogs to visit Hemeon’s Farm? At the Orleans market, they have come to you with their cranberries. “Hey, it gets me out of the house,” said Brent Hemeon, as he sat next to his wife Peggy.

Traci Noone, a potter and jeweler, and Eliza Travisano, an herbalist, offered vases and tonics, and next to them Nicole Cormier, a registered dietitian and co-owner of The Local Juice in Hyannis, which she calls “the first cold-pressed juice bar on Cape Cod,” had “an intuitive guide to cultivating a sustainable food practice.”

Over at the table of E&T Farms, from West Barnstable, Barbara Our was offering hydroponically-grown lettuce and basil.

By noon, vendors were starting to pack up for other fairs and strolls where they would offer the fruits of their labors. It was the first Saturday in December, and lots of churches and towns were inviting people to shop.

You can find out more about these local farmers who will sell their products in Orleans at

nutritionfromthegroundup.com, seawindmeadows@gmail.com, orleansfarmersmarket.com, PirateApothecary.com, and mtlaurelpottery@gmail.com.