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Pagosa Farmers Market begins Saturday, July 11
Friday, November 12, 2010

This year’s market will be held Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. The market begins July 11 and runs through the end of September.

The market will be at the corner of U.S. 160 and Piedra Road. Ample parking is available for vendors and customers.

What is the Pagosa Farmers Market?

The Pagosa Farmers Market is one of at least 110 farmers markets across Colorado, offering the highest quality, freshest, Colorado-grown produce and agricultural products.

This year’s market promises to be a festive place, with at least 20 new and returning vendors. Local musicians will entertain all morning, every week, and sandwiches and beverages will be available on site.

Brooks I will perform at the first market on July 11! Throughout the summer, watch for The Flying Elmos, Carl Mori, The Assortment, The Big ’Uns and many more solo performers and songwriters. These musicians are all donating their time and talent, so please consider putting something in their open guitar cases.

Despite the challenges of growing food in our climate, vendors aim to bring fresh produce every weekend. In addition to individual vendors, a group of ten backyard gardeners have formed the Small Grower Cooperative, and will bring a variety of produce throughout this growing season.

Other products available will include: bread and other baked goods, frozen beef and lamb, eggs, goat cheese, bison, herbal products to eat and use on your body, seedling starts, tamales, salsa, jams and jellies.

Another new feature, the Pagosa Fiber Cooperative, brings wool, alpaca, mohair and angora fibers direct from the farm.

Pauline Benetti of the Pagosa Fiber Cooperative says, “We are very excited about this new idea. We have a number of farmers in the area growing sheep, alpaca, llama, goats, rabbits — all producing this great variety of wonderful fiber. We will be selling everything from raw fiber to yarn at farm prices. We are even working on having lessons available–– like spinning and knitting.”

About half of the vendors are participating for the first time this year, and all new and returning vendors are excited about the growing interest in Farmers Markets, and the growth of Pagosa Farmers Market.

“The Pagosa Farmers Market is becoming more of an event for the whole family. The Farmers Market is growing as our community grows,” says Peggy Bergon of the organizing committee.

Ilene Haykus, vendor coordinator, has been working hard to encourage participation, to bring a broad range of products that fit Market guidelines. Vendors strive to keep pricing competitive with other sources. Many vendors sell products that are organic, or grown or produced using organic methods or ingredients.

Why shop at a farmers market?

Enjoy seasonal diversity. Susan Junta, of the Pagosa Farmers Market Committee, notes, “It’s a real achievement to have a Farmers Market here, with all the challenges of growing at this altitude.” At the market, you can talk to local farmers and backyard gardeners about just how they do it.

Local produce is allowed to ripen in the field and harvested just before market time, ensuring the best flavor and nutritional value.

Instead of traveling an average of 1,500 miles over one to two weeks, local produce is consumed close to home, meaning less carbon dioxide emissions, less fuel used, and less packaging materials.

Buying local keeps your hard-earned dollars circulating right here. We all benefit one another, helping maintain jobs and sustain family farms and ranches. By keeping farms and ranches profitable, we help maintain open space and wildlife habitat. The number of farms in Archuleta County increased from 258 in 2002 to 306 in 2007, with a market value in 2007 of $721,000 in crop sales and 6.7 million dollars in livestock sales.

The movement toward locally grown food is sweeping the country, and Pagosa Country is no exception. In tough economic times, there is great opportunity to get to know the people in your community better, and to work together.

Make informed choices about the food you eat. With recent food scares such as tainted spinach, contaminated peanut butter, e-coli in meat, people are asking more and more questions about where their food comes from. Does it contain chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or has it been genetically modified? Growing your own food is one way to be sure of what you are eating. If you don’t have the time, space or inclination, Farmers Markets are the closest thing. You buy directly from our local farmers and producers, and they can readily and immediately answer all your questions.

Build community. The Pagosa Farmers Market is a gathering place to visit with friends, show your children where our food comes from, and meet our local agricultural producers.

You can also pick up a copy of the “Colorado Farm Fresh Directory,” which lists farmers markets and farms across Colorado that you can visit if you are on the road this summer.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has proclaimed Aug. 2-8, 2009, as National Farmers Market Week. This year marks the 10th annual National Farmers Market Week.  In 10 years, the number of farmers markets nationwide has grown from 2,863 to more than 4,600.

“Farmers markets are good for everyone,” says Stacy Miller, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, a non-profit organization supporting farmers markets across the country. “They are good for your health, good for your community, and good for the economy. Not to mention they offer the freshest foods from America’s most entrepreneurial farmers and preserve our country’s agricultural traditions.”

Mary Jo Coulehan, Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, echoes these remarks. “We look at the Farmers Market from two standpoints: a business standpoint and a tourism standpoint. Farmers Markets are great in both aspects! It’s a business market, a grassroots market. It’s good for business for people to have small entrepreneurial endeavors. The Farmers Market is good for tourism, especially in a rural community like ours. Visitors expect to find Farmers Markets and local produce. People love to get fresh produce direct from the grower. It’s a part of them, and part of the land. The Pagosa Farmers Market provides a social aspect as well; it’s a great gathering place where people can meet and catch up on things.”

The Pagosa Farmers Market is a subcommittee of SOS, the Southwest Organization for Sustainability, and aims to provide a venue for local and regional food producers, and select non-food producers to sell their products to benefit our community and the earth.

The Pagosa Farmers Market is a member of the Colorado Farmers’ Market Association (CFMA), a non-profit organization that promotes Colorado farmers’ markets; provides a cooperative environment for farmers to work and market together; educates farmers, the public and governmental bodies about Colorado products and markets; and encourages the development and use of improved growing, harvesting and marketing techniques to benefit farmers and Colorado consumers.

More information on reasons to shop Farmers Markets and support local farms can be found on Web sites of several organizations, including www.foodroutes.org and American Farmland Trust, www.farmland.org You can even vote for your favorite farmer’s market.

If you are interested in being a vendor, call Ilene Haykus at 731 0553.

If you would like to volunteer at the market, call Phyl Daleske 731 4589.

For more information, visit www.sospagosa.org and click on the link to “Market,” or call Lisa Jensen at 264 0430.

Most importantly, come to the Pagosa Farmers Market! Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon at the corner of U.S. 160 and Piedra Road. Bring your baskets, bring your kids, eat well, enjoy some home grown music and have fun!