By Lindsay Courcelle
Walking in Downtown Rutland one recent evening, I was struck by all of the holiday decorations and beautifully decorated storefronts. There is certainly an abundance of options for gift buying this winter.
On Saturday, I headed to the Vermont Farmers Food Center for the farmers market, to scope out the displays with Christmas in mind. The booths were full of variety and creativity. Here are some ideas for holiday gift baskets:
For family and friends interested in natural health, start with a bottle of Elderberry Syrup from Taking Root. Made of local elderberries, raw honey, and water, this syrup is absolutely delicious and will boost immunity through the winter. Taking Root also has a variety of herbal teas, with medicinal qualities ranging from anti-inflammatory to digestive support.
Next, add some chaga, the antioxidant-rich fungus that grows on our birch trees. Sold in the form of a tincture or chunks to be brewed for tea, chaga is offered by two vendors: Chaga Moon and Champlain Valley Mushrooms.
Finish up your basket with a bar of soap made with all natural ingredients, such as goats’ milk soap from Breezy Meadows or the many creative varieties from Filthy Farm Girl.
For a Happy Belly
As someone who truly loves to eat, I often give food gifts during the holidays. The bread wreaths and other beautifully shaped French breads from Ooh La La Bakery would be perfect for a gift basket.
For gluten-free friends, start with something tasty from Get Cracking Kitchen or a baking mix from Bomoseen Bread Basket. Add some canned goods like jam or pickles and you’re halfway there.
Finish your basket with some sweets like Maple Corn from Yoder Farm, maple candy from K+S Ruane Maple, or a delicious buttercrunch toffee from Ambrosia Confections.
For the Cocktail Lover
Vermont is already well known for our craft beers and ciders, but the market features two vendors of exciting locally made spirits. Whistlepig rye whiskey has been praised nationally, and they have just started to distill using grain grown in Shoreham.
Caledonia Spirits sells vodka and two types of gin with the name Barr Hill. The vodka is distilled using only raw honey, making it unique for vodka. The gin uses honey, juniper berries from Quebec, and a corn base. One of their gins, Tom Cat, is aged in Vermont white oak barrels, giving it a lovely caramel color not often seen in a gin. Either of these vendors is sure to excite family and friends who like to get creative with their holiday cocktails.
Odds and Ends
Other noteworthy gifts are yarn and knitwear from Dream Catcher Alpacas in a variety of lovely colors and colorful knitted guitar straps from Spring Lake Ranch.
Eric Oesterle’s wooden cutting boards are striking and perfect for those who love to cook. For your furry friend, try Liver Dog Treats from Jersey Girls.
And finally, think of supporting your favorite vegetable farmer or meat producer by buying a gift certificate or CSA share for a loved one.
When you buy locally produced goods, you are keeping your money in our community and helping a farmer or small business owner heat their home or put their own presents under the tree.
Plus, a visit to the farmers market is full of smiles and happy conversation, the most important things to give and receive this holiday season.
Lindsay and her husband Scott own Alchemy Gardens, a vegetable farm business in Shrewsbury. Learn more at www.AlchemyGardensVT.com