Indoor Winter Market Brings Fresh Produce to Corvallis
For many Corvallis and Albany residents, the friendly weather of early summer to late fall is punctuated by frequent visits to the downtown farmers’ markets. It may be a little depressing when winter hits and the weather becomes less hospitable. Fruits and berries go out of season, the days get shorter and colder, and local farms and vendors can no longer set up shop outside.
Vendors have two choices during the cold winter months: hibernate like a bear in a cave and wait until spring, or migrate like geese to a comfier, sheltered venue. Luckily, the latter is possible thanks to the Benton County Fairgrounds and the community-organized Corvallis Indoor Winter Market.
January 11 was the first day of the weekly winter market. Held on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm, farmers and vendors who would typically sell their products downtown during the summer meet at the fairgrounds to set up shop in Gueber Hall and the adjacent covered RV storage awnings.
In the northwest corner of Gueber Hall was a petite table adorned with a variety of yellow figurines. On closer inspection, each figurine had a little white wick poking out of the top.
“These are all beeswax candles that I make myself,” says Bertie Stringer, one of the owners and proprietors of Honeystone Candles. “Well, I make the molds. The bees make the beeswax.”
Stringer had been beekeeping for 30 years before starting Honeystone. Typically the only product that is harvested from bees is the raw honey, which is filtered and pasteurized before being bottled and sold. Beeswax is a tougher substance that is produced and used by worker bees to build honeycomb cells and caps. When honey is harvested the caps are usually discarded, but Stringer has found a new use for them. “The caps are not waste products but bi-products,” says Stringer, who has collaborated with several local honey farms to collect the beeswax for use in her candles. Beeswax candles burn hotter and longer than typical paraffin candles, producing less carbon soot as a result.
Honeystone also sells lotions and lip balms made from beeswax and shea butter, all ingredients locally sourced. “Supporting local bees also supports local ecosystems,” says Stringer.
Check out more of Honeystone’s beeswax products at their website: honeystonecandles.org
Also check out Nectar and Pollen Plants of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest at the library or your local bookstore, co-written by Bertie Stringer.
Mother Culture Herbal Jun
Kombucha is a pretty divisive drink. Some people can’t get enough of the stuff, but others have a hard time getting over the yeasty, tangy taste. Supposedly it’s really healthy and probiotic, but why does it have to taste like hard apple cider vinegar?
Luckily there’s an alternative. Mother Culture Herbal Jun is a local business whose specialty beverage is in the name. Herbal jun is similar to kombucha in that it is a probiotic drink made using a scoby, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, to ferment the natural ingredients of the tea. However, where kombucha is flavored with cane sugar and black tea, jun uses honey and green tea. The result is a less fizzy, smoother drink that is still sweet but much more floral than kombucha.
“A lot of the ingredients in kombucha didn’t agree with me,” says founder and brew master Tuula Perry. “Jun is just as probiotic, using honey instead of cane sugar keeps it sweet, but not overpowering.”
Perry sources honey from Honey Tree Apiaries, a raw honey farm based in Benton County. Mother Culture distributes jun to several local establishments including First Alternative Co-Op, Sky High Brewing, Taco Vino, and the Brass Monkey Public House. During the winter market customers bring Perry growlers, which she fills with the jun flavor of their choice.
“We have one that’s made with chai and reishi, a type of mushroom,” says Perry, “This one is very floral, so it’s called Flowers and Berries.” Some other ingredients infused in the jun include blueberries, lavender, hawthorn berries, tulsi, and thyme. Customers can even subscribe to weekly or bi-weekly jun pick-ups, including current and custom flavors.
For more information follow Mother Culture Jun on facebook or visit their website: https://www.motherculturejun.com/
It’s hard to eat healthy, and it’s even harder to know what fruits and vegetables are in season and locally produced. Farmers’ markets are the best places to find food that meets all those categories.
Goodfoot Farms was one of several produce stands set up during the winter market. Plenty of seasonal ingredients including rutabaga, kale, and cabbage filled their stand.
“Mostly roots and leaves,” says farm owner Beth Hoinacki. “Tubers like potatoes need to be harvested before the frost sets in, but stay fresh in storage.”
The winter market is not only a good location for local farms to sell their vegetables, it also lets customers interact directly with the people providing them with food. “Buying from markets or co-ops is the best way for you to know that you’re food is fresh,” says Hoinacki. “If it’s coming from Mexico, it’s probably not going to be in season.”
Photos by: Katie Littlefield