Fill Your Pantry: Farmers Markets in Winter

Fill Your Pantry with Farmer's Market Produce all Year Round!

Prepare for winter with a one-day farmers market

written by Chris Peterson | illustrated by Allison Bye

Fill your Pantry

You’ve surely noticed how easy it has become to create an entire meal from local ingredients thanks to year-round farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, farm stands, even online shopping. As demand has grown, so has the number of small farmers producing broader varieties of foods, from duck eggs and cheese to polenta and popcorn. Grocers, restaurants, pubs, bakeries and even school cafeterias proudly list local ingredients.

A new way to stock up on healthful staples and boost your local economy in one annual shopping spree is taking root. Aptly called Fill Your Pantry, these one-day farmers markets fill community halls, schools and granges with food producers and consumers for one big, all-local sale that leaves everyone with a sense of accomplishment.

This Oregon-original idea is not a franchise—these are community-specific events based on what is produced in the area and what community food groups exist. Most occur shortly after harvest so shoppers can fill their pantries and freezers with peak-quality staples—onions, garlic, squash, whole grains, flour, dried beans, nuts, fruits, meats, vegetables, fermented and preserved foods, and more in time for the holidays and winter’s worst weather.

Customers save money purchasing in bulk and save farmers from having to store that food and sell it slowly over the winter. Best of all, customers can meet those farmers, ask questions and thank them for their wholesome food and hard work. Farmers rarely get to hear feedback, and it can serve as a shot of adrenaline at the end of an exhausting growing season and harvest. They’ll be ordering seeds, planning herds or flocks, and pruning orchards for next year before you’ve hardly made a dent in your supply.

Fill Your Pantry Origins


The idea for Fill Your Pantry (FYP) sprouted eight years ago as Willamette Valley farmers met to discuss expanding bean and grain production in response to growing consumer demand. Ten Rivers Food Web hosted the first event in a barn near Corvallis—response was overwhelming. It was immediately adopted by Willamette Farm & Food in Lane County, again to rave reviews. Today FYP events also take place in Portland, Salem, Hood River and Central Oregon (see sidebar) to such enthusiasm that many producers sell out before it’s over, prompting online pre-ordering where possible. OSU Extension Service preservation experts are often on hand to answer questions, while music, food, kids’ activities or other special features often add festivity to these celebrations of community, self-sufficiency and local abundance.

Tips for Shopping a Fill Your Pantry event

• Prepare storage space with cool,
constant temperatures. Make freezer space.
• Pre-order online, where possible, to guarantee purchases. Or, arrive early.
• Can’t use best-deal large quantities? Purchase and share with friends.
• Ask questions of farmers and storage experts—they’ll love it.
• Bring extra muscle or wheel power for schlepping goods to your vehicle.
• Bring cash or checks for vendors who don’t take credit cards.
• SNAP and EBT welcomed at most events (check websites).

More Info
Find details for the Fill Your Pantry event nearest you
• Corvallis: tenriversfoodweb.org
• Eugene/Springfield: willamettefarmandfood.org
• Portland and Salem: friendsoffamilyfarmers.org
• Hood River: rockfordgrange.net
• Central Oregon: centraloregonlocavore.org
Want to start one in your area?
Contact any of the above.

Next Read about Caring Cabin!

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