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This is the season of light and that's a fact based in the science of the stars and planets. Dec. 21 marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the angle of the earth tilts furthest away from the sun. After that, the earth begins to tilt back, the hours of sunlight growing longer until the opposite effect is maximized June 21, on the summer solstice.

This cycle of renewal is endless, and it should come as no surprise that cultures around the world – past and present – celebrate the rebirth of the sun (not just the birth of the Son) this time of year. Naturally, during these darker days, fresh food was hard to come by so people of simpler times pooled together what they had for community feasting and burned their yule logs because it was cold outside.

In this spirit, the weekly College Park Market – especially the Dec. 23 edition – keeps its roots in the tradition of sharing homemade items and seasonal warmth. For last-minute gifts and meals, pick up organic breads and pastries, teas and coffees, preserves and jams, fresh flowers, pottery, stained glass and locally grown produce.

The growers' market is organized by Eco-Action, under executive director Beth Hollenbeck, and is only one of the group's activist activities. The Eco-Action website advocates: "Connect with the planet, the earth, the tenders of the soil. Through our purchases of local, seasonal foods, we see for ourselves how the land and water are treated by the farmers. The hidden costs of industrial agriculture, which the consumer usually doesn't see – overuse of water, chemicals, and loss of cropland, which ultimately threatens the food supply – would be right under our noses. The out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality would necessarily change."

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