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Farmers Market — something fun, and good for you too

How often do we come across something that it is fun and good for you at the same time?

The Farmers Market is one of those “somethings.”

Brought to you by Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS), the market will take place at the east end of the Ponderosa parking lot 9 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday from July 9 to the end of August.

The “good for you and the planet” part is explained by Denise Rue Pastin, chairperson of SOS. “Consumers are realizing that the environment matters and the best way to feed themselves and their family and protect the planet is to buy food locally.”

Denise cites an interesting statistic from Bill McKibben’s book “Deep Economy.” The average bite of American food has travelled more than 1,500 miles from source to lips. A quick trip to the calculator would reveal the cost in non-renewable energy and research reveals that the nutritional cost is also significant.

The “fun” part?

One fact to know is that all the effort involved in bringing a weekly Farmers Market to the public is done by volunteers who also hope that you will enjoy yourselves during your time shopping. To help that along they look for entertainment; last year there was music by local musicians, a strong man demonstration, an Akido demonstration and art projects for the kids.

This year, the organizers are looking to expand the “fun” offerings.

Finally, there is the fun value in simply strolling around to see what is being produced locally, who the producers are and what they have to say about the process. Asking questions, learning new information and visiting with folks is fun and a fine way to spend a few hours on Saturday morning.

The public in also invited to recyle ink cartridges, batteries and CFLs each week at the Farmers Market. Here are some of the producers who will be at the Market opening day. Each was asked why they show up every Saturday.

Let’s begin with long-time Pagosa resident Lucy Gonzales, and Lucy’s Tamales, the product for which she is most well known. In addition, however, there are sopapillas, salsa and tortillas all made by hand in the Parish Hall kitchen. Lucy’s history of selling Mexican food goes back to the ’80s when she operated her kitchen on wheels. Later she used her tamale sales to send her daughter on her high school trip to Washington D.C. with the help of the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW. Today, she brings 10 dozen tamales to the Market and sells out. Asked why she participates in the Market, Lucy responded that she enjoys cooking and selling her product.

Another small producer, AOK Organics, is owned by Kim and Alan Meinhausen, who transferred from Florida and put up their 33-foot growing dome and chicken condo before they built their own house! That gives you an idea of priorities. As one of many small producers, they sell kale, spinach, lettuce, chard and eggs from their range free, condo-housed chickens. Egg production will be restricted for awhile after the visit of a young brown bear, but they are philosophical about it all and ask, “Who was here first?” as they work to make the chicken condo more resistant to Mr. Young Bear. When asked why the do what they do, they agreed that it has to do with introducing self-sufficiency and sustainability and providing the alternative of fresh, high quality products to the consumer.

Allan and Lois Higgins of Grass Roots Meats here in Pagosa Springs have a mission — to educate the public on the superiority of grass-fed beef over commercial grain finished beef. In a nutshell, they explain that grass fed beef has less fat, fewer calories, more omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, and beta-carotene, a much lower risk of E.Coli and simply is superior in taste. Asked why they show up, the Higgins replied that success in selling their high quality meats allows them to preserve their agricultural freedoms and peaceful rural lifestyle while making a living.

Don’t miss opening day — this Saturday morning..

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