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Sunday, July 25, 2021

A tale of two farmers markets

By Pauline Benetti
Southwest Organization for Sustainability

Once there was one Pagosa Farmers Market (skeptics didn’t believe that was possible). Now,there are two Pagosa Farmers Markets. But wait; they are not the same. The first one is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through September at the east end of downtown and doing smashingly. And the second market? It will have its grand opening today, Thursday, at pagosafarmersmarket.net.

That’s right, an online farmers market in Pagosa. And it will be operational year-round. 

Go online and see for yourself. Notice on the home page that we have divided our vendors into three categories — Growers, Producers and Makers. We do this to draw attention to the broad spectrum of creativity we have in our community and to offer a venue to folks who do have a serious habit in one of these areas a place where they might display their wares and reap some economic benefit. For this year, the only fees are those charged by the credit card company. 

With growers, the issues remain the same. We do not have enough of them and what they produce is consumed at the live market. We offer this new venue as a potential to encourage growing and especially growing in greenhouses to extend our season. 

All kinds of possibilities exist for producers. We already have two bakers who are producing wonderful breads, pies, muffins, etc. We are very close to having meat producers online, both beef and chicken. We are working closely with Colorado State University and the Cottage Food Certification they offer to encourage graduates of the program to consider the online venue for the considerable variety of foods that can be produced in a home kitchen for direct sale to the consumer. It’s a great way for folks to work at what they enjoy at home and bring in some income.

Our makers represent a huge reservoir of creativity in our community — artists, artisans and crafters. We invite our fine artists — painters, photographers, sculptors, etc. — and our makers of functional and decorative pieces — textiles, ceramics, jewelry, leather goods, glassware, furniture, etc. — and our crafters of attractive, fun, and useful items all to consider the potential of a year-round online venue. 

Now to the “live” market. Regular customers have learned the importance of an early arrival. The big rush and the best selection is at 9 a.m. Our growers were offering produce of every description: broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, microgreens, eggplant, beets, carrots, cucumbers, rhubarb; and herbs: oregano, mint and thyme; and plants: basil, chiltepin, eggplant, thyme, strawberries; and ornamentals: English Ivy and columbine. Our producers offered a variety of beef cuts, eggs, preserved jams, baked goods, granolas, caramels and toffee. Our makers offered everything from fine sterling silver jewelry inlaid with semi-precious stones to handmade soap and carved bears.

As we move further into summer, abundance will only increase. A reminder to all you backyard growers, our Small Growers Coop is waiting for you to bring in your excess to offer our customers. Here’s a venue that will help to support your growing habit. All you have to do is contact us and show up.

The market continues to accept SNAP cards and continues to hand out free a $20 value of Double Up Food Bucks for the first $20 SNAP purchase, essentially doubling purchasing power. In addition, we are redeeming coupons from the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging which have been distributed to local seniors to encourage shopping at the Pagosa Farmers Market and buying nutritious local food.

If you have not renewed membership in the Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS), this is the time to do it. This organization supports the Pagosa Farmers Market and organizes our celebration of Earth Day plus other activities that promote sustainability in Archuleta County. Look for the SOS booth. Support also comes from the Town of Pagosa Springs and the Pagosa Area Tourism Board. Both of these entities recognize the important role played by the market both for locals and tourists.

For information about the market or how to become a vendor, contact pagosafarmersmarket@gmail.com. 

See you Saturday.

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