One usually thinks of farmers during the summer months. However, Austin’s Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield, came up with the idea of having fresh foods and vegetables available for this snowy winter. The church hosted a winter farmer’s market and brunch last Saturday.

Besides the array of locally-grown food, a brunch featuring scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, sausages, and coffee were served to hungry visitors.

Profits from the event will benefit and local farmers for who such winter markets provide income during the lean winter months. There were varieties of items available, ranging from blankets made of Angora yarn, hormone-free meats from Arnold Farms’, organic farming by Erehwon Farm, and natural beauty products by Margie Werderich.

Robin Schirmer, Chicago Area Market coordinator, was also there representing Churches Center for Land and People (CCLP), an organization based in Janesville, Wis.

“It is an ecumenical organization that is just trying to help small farmers and rural communities,” Schirmer said. “One way to do that is to give them ventures past the growing season to sell the products that they raise or make from their farm products.

This was also Schirmer’s first visit to the Austin community.

“It’s my first year coordinating these markets, and we’ve had 19 of them throughout the Chicago area from November to March. We do still have a few coming up. What we’ve tried to do is have the greater Oak Park/River Forest-area constitute a community of markets. So we’ve had one in December in River Forest, one in February in Oak Park and one here in Austin, and I’m so glad we’re here.

The next market returns to River Forest March 10, at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 W. Division.

“So essentially, it’s like having a community farmer’s market. Also, when the vendors come, they have to be raising things [from] their farm,” Schirmer added. “I round out the offerings of the market by bringing a variety of products from other local vendors who could not be here.

When we think of beauty products, seldom do we think about its ingredients or where they come from. Another participant at Saturday’s winter market was Margie Werderich, whose passion is making natural body products that comes from the earth.

“I’m from Barlett, Ill., and I did a market in the area on Euclid Avenue at a church,” she recalled. “I love to share with others who enjoy taking care of their skin naturally, like I do. The ingredients I used are from mother earth and some I grow myself. I’ve researched and combined herbs and oils that have been used for centuries. Most products contain preservatives and chemicals that cost extra. With my natural beauty products, you get what your skin needs.

Third Unitarian pastor, Rev. Brian Covell, can be proud of the many volunteers from his congregation for pulling off a successful event.