Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scrambling to Find the Perfect Holiday Gift?

There's been a lot of talk lately at the CT NOFA office about holiday gift giving and the staff's various levels of gift-buying/making completion. The holidays are a busy time of year, and that can mean there's not a lot of time available to buy or make meaningful gifts for loved ones. After all, no matter how well-intentioned or thoughtful our holiday gift-giving plans are, there are still only 24 hours in a day. Last year, a time crunch meant my husband had to make the vast majority of gift decisions in our household, but this year I was spared the stress of a last minute gift-buying bonanza because I knew where to look for locally-made products. If you are in the midst of wracking your brain for unique gift ideas, consider buying locally-produced items from Connecticut farms and winter farmers markets.

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory has seen a 52 percent increase in winter farmers markets this year. This, of course, means more opportunities to buy locally produced in-season foods for your holiday cooking. Winter markets, however, are also great places to go for unique locally-made gifts for family and friends. Items available at the markets can include fresh and preserved fruits and vegetables, dairy, meats, baked goods, eggs, nuts, honey, soaps, wool and fiber, Christmas trees, and holiday decorations. If you're throwing a holiday party, a larger market can literally cover all of your bases, providing food, decor, and gifts for the event. Check out a list of markets that feature at least one CT NOFA member farmer here, or click here for the CT Department of Agriculture's full holiday list.

Even if you can't make it to a farmers market in time to buy holiday gifts, many farms also offer goods for sale in the winter from farm stores and online. The second option is especially helpful if you're really busy - just don't forget to order far enough in advance to account for shipping time. Each farm sells their goods a little differently, so check out our Farm and Food Guide here to find farms in your area that you can visit.  You can also use the Guide as a database of farm websites that you can peruse when shopping online.

However you choose to complete your holiday shopping, don't forget to have fun and feel the spirit of the season! Have a great afternoon!
-Melissa

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