If you go
What: Boulder Farmers' Market
When: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, April 2-Nov. 29; 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesdays, May 7-Oct. 1
Where: 13th Street and Canyon Boulevard, Boulder
If you go
What: Longmont Farmers' Market
When: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, April 2-Nov.1
Where: Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Ave., Longmont
Oh, for a taste of something fresh and local. It's a common lament as winter turns to spring.
Fortunately for those of us who live in Boulder County, many farmers have been planning ahead. The first markets once offered mostly over-wintered spinach and a few spring greens that depended on the warmth of the season. Now, however, several farmers have hoophouses that allow them to bring spring greens to market earlier. The farmers markets in Boulder and Longmont open Saturday, and several farmers will have lettuces, other greens and carrots, over-wintered and sweetened by their frosty travails underground.
The markets won't see many changes, according to executive director Brian Coppom, who took the position in October. One difference is an increased emphasis on farmers rather than vendors offering prepared foods.
"The customers wanted to see more farmers," Coppom says.
One such is Jeremy Marsh, owner of Rocky Mountain Fresh, which has greenhouses in Lyons. Marsh, who got his farming start in Arvada in 2011, opened the greenhouse in Lyons in part to be able to sell to the markets in Boulder County.
"It was a major deciding factor getting the big greenhouse where I am now," he says, "the fact that I could potentialy get into these markets."
Marsh will have pickling cucumbers at the first market. Heirloom tomatoes, his specialty, should be ripe and ready for market by mid-April. By the beginning of May, he says, lemon cucumbers, as well as Japanese and English varieties, should be available. Tomatoes — he is growing about 25 different types of heirlooms — will continue to be available throughout the season, with some field-grown love apples making their appearance when ripe, likely in late July or early August.
Marsh got his start as a backyard gardener.
"I thought there was a potential to make a living at what I enjoyed," Marsh says.
Coppom, who has a business background, says it is his job to encourage and nurture newer farmers such as Marsh, along with farmers who have been in business for years.
To that end, the organization is exploring opening a new market on Wednesdays in downtown Longmont, although Coppom says there are logistical issues to be worked out.
"It would open up more venues for more farmers," he says.
Those would include smaller farms, giving the owners an opportunity to grow their businesses.
Coppom also plans to work on the demand side, promoting the markets with cooking demonstrations and tips on how to shop economically. For low-income customers, he is hoping to raise funds to supplement SNAP (food stamps) benefits to make those dollars stretch further.
He says the individual markets offer different experiences for customers. The busy Saturday market in Boulder offers "hustle and bustle" and the most vendors, while the Longmont market, with its ample parking, can be more appealing to families with children. Boulder's Wednesday market is similarly a more relaxed experience.
The goal of the markets is to support and strengthen local farms and to give consumers a chance to eat fresh, vibrant produce grown close to home, as well as locally raised meats, eggs and locally produced beverage and packaged foods.
For those of us hankering for those delicate spring lettuces and other salad makings, it's time to get the shopping bags ready and come home to whisk the vinaigrette.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at 303-473-1335 or firstname.lastname@example.org