Shoppers were snapping up vegetables on the first day of the Red Deer Winter Market held on Saturday.

Shoppers were snapping up vegetables on the first day of the Red Deer Winter Market held on Saturday.

Winter market a hit

Central Albertans like their carrots sweet and locally grown.

Central Albertans like their carrots sweet and locally grown.

Kurt Bradshaw, of Beck Farms at the Red Deer Winter Market, said local growers call the California carrots available in grocery stores “willow sticks.”

Nantes carrots, a French variety that local producers grow, do break easier when they are dropped due to their high sugar content, but they are tastier, he said.

“I had a lady this year buy four 25-pound bags and she went to the States with them because she just couldn’t stand the California carrots,” Bradshaw said at the Saturday morning market held at Eastview Estates Community Hall.

He said since carrots are a top seller, the carrot supply will determine how long Beck Farms will be at the Red Deer Winter Market this year.

“We’ll be here for a few months for sure. It depends on how well they keep. Right now they seem to be keeping fine.”

To last as long as possible, he recommended people store carrots bagged and tied in the fridge. And it’s okay to let them dry out or go hairy. Hairy roots can be easily rubbed off.

“That’s fine. It means they’re alive and that’s okay.”

Winter market customer April Weber, of Red Deer, who purchased at least one 11.25-kilogram (25-pound) bag of carrots, said she likes to cook with carrots and her children get fresh carrots in their lunches.

“They are quite sweet. This year we had a garden but our carrots didn’t produce,” said Weber.

She said if people make it a point to buy from local growers then they’ll keep the fresh supply of vegetables available at local markets.

Red Deer Winter Market veggies also include potatoes, beets, onions, brussels sprouts and much more from Innisfail Growers.

A second table features baked goods such as meat pies, bread and cookies from bakers from Rocky Mountain House and Olds on alternate Saturdays.

Local foodies can also sign up for e-mail notifications featuring the week’s produce and market cancellations due to inclement weather or other hiccups.

Market hours are 10 a.m. to noon at 120 Ellenwood Dr.

The market runs every second Saturday until mid-April.

The next market will be on Nov. 10.

For more information, go to www.innisfailgrowers.com.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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