Like the juicy ripe strawberries on sale at the market, local farmers markets are in season once again. A beautiful concept that has evolved far beyond what was once a congregation of food producers selling just fruits, vegetables and fresh eggs, the first farmers markets — both in Vail and Edwards — kick off this weekend. Nowadays, a trip to the local farmers market means your one-stop place for artwork and gourmet prepared foods, as well as your traditional array of fresh fruits and veggies.
This market is BYOB everyone, so bring you own bag — preferably canvas. No bags will be given out when purchasing items from the vendors. The Vail Farmers Market is thinking green this year more than ever. Vail has around 10 different farms coming to show off its weekly harvest every Sunday, helping to emphasize the health and wellness message market organizers want to spread throughout the community. Because after all, you are what you eat.
Despite the harsh cold weather that trickled into April and May, causing farmers to fall about three weeks behind in the usual growing season, the spread will still be bountiful. Dave Patterson of Miller Farms from Platteville has been growing pesticide-free goods since 1949 — 40 different types of produce to be exact.
“We’re going to have plenty of greenhouse tomatoes,” Patterson said. “It’s still a little early in the season but we’ll have asparagus and radishes, and all that good stuff.”
The largest of its kind in Colorado with more than 100 different vendors, this community event always has family entertainment. The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens will be have a booth for nature activities, and starting June 23 and running until Aug. 24, the Vail Jazz Festival will hosts 10 free outdoor concerts featuring local and regionally-based jazz talent from noon to 3 p.m. Bravo!Vail will also host performances for attendees to enjoy while browsing the market.
The Edwards Market is the perfect place to make friends, meet neighbors and relax. Colorful tents line the street and offer a delightful selection of specialty foods like fresh jams, artisan baked breads and pastries and pies.
“It’s a true locals market,” said Thomas Dobrez who operates the Edwards event. “With all Colorado products, this market is the perfect place for locals and second homeowners to come and get a weeks worth of fresh produce, seafood and Colorado-raised beef.”
Kicking off today in Edwards Corner, people can expect to find a consistent group of vendors who will be there every weekend. An eighth year veteran to the Edwards Farmers Market, Pastamore from Denver will be there every Saturday selling gourmet prepared food items. Pastamore specializes in infused oils, like roasted garlic and grapeseed oil, as well as balsamic vinegars, and certified gluten-free flavored pastas.
“The reason we like this one is because it’s more locals than other markets who come back week to week,” said Casey Ottmann, who handles PR for Pastamore. “Because we’re a prepared foods company, we don’t see the response from our customers then and there. They come back the following weekend and say how much they liked something, and it provides a second connection — it’s more personal.”
Something new to this year’s Edwards Farmers Market is a stage that’s being constructed. Scheduled to be finished in July, the stage will host children’s entertainment and a series of health and business-related seminars that market visitors can enjoy. They will host a different artist in residence each weekend, who will be demonstrate their artwork. Today’s artist is Willy Gardiner, who has a unique style of manipulating acrylic paints using water and gravity. He spins, tilts, yanks and pokes the canvas in his creations.
The Minturn Farmers Market, the first market in the Valley, heads into its 13th season beginning June 29. The term “farmers market” can be loosely applied to this event, as it’s more of a specialty outdoor market encompassing a wide variety of goods to accommodate tourists and locals alike.
“I think what’s nice about our county is the variety,” said market coordinator Michelle Metteer. “Edwards has the farmers, Vail is larger with tourists, and Minturn has a little of both. There’s probably 15 different types of categories to classify our vendors.”
Every week there’s something new at the Minturn Market because there’s a large amount of part-time vendors. And around 10 percent of the total vendors sell produce.
Although a lot of local crafts are for sale, attendees will get their cultural fix at the Minturn Market with the amount of art and home décor that comes from far and wide — with some products coming from as far away as West Africa. Vendors like Simbala Drammeh, creator of F.S.T.O, will be back for her sixth year selling hand woven, fair-trade baskets from Ghana. Made out of grass with goatskin leather handles, these baskets are used for market shopping in Africa. As decorative home décor or used to replace plastic bags when shopping local markets, these baskets are biodegradable and go to a good cause. Drammeh works with a women’s cooperative of about 452 women.
“The women use the money for things like healthcare and food,” said Drammeh. “It’s not just a product you’re buying for its beauty, but for women in a developing country.”
Thutop Yuthok, owner of Tibetan Sisters Jewelry and Art has had a booth in Minturn since 2005. The beaded jewelry on display is handmade by family members who work at the Denver store, and the rest is brought over from Nepal. The Buddhist artifacts are high sellers too, more specifically the Tibetan singing bowls. Handmade from Nepal, they’re used for sound healing and meditation.
“We like Minturn because we like being in the mountains and everyone’s really nice,” said Yuthok. “This is a part of our life and income source.”
The Minturn Market has also teamed up with the local Children’s Learning Center this year. Pooh Corner will offer free kids activities. There will also be live music in the north and south ends of the market.