Farmers Market

The warm season has had a slow start this year with a series of cool, windy days interspersed with some warm sun followed by this week’s spate of much-needed moisture. But summer will come, and there is no surer sign of its arrival each year than the season’s first Durango Farmers Market, which will take place Saturday morning in the First National Bank parking lot.

Since its inception in 1997, the Farmers Market has grown to become a community institution that connects local agriculturalists, artists, educators and musicians to one another and to the broader community. The market’s mission is to strengthen those ties and provide a venue that centers around “preserving open space, by promoting healthy farming practices, and by providing educational benefits through hands-on experience. The market “seeks to improve the quality of life for all community members.” That is a lofty goal, but the means to achieving it are easy to grasp: fresh greens, apples, corn, cheese, flowers, meats and garlic trucked in from nearby farms, neighbors gathering to shop and converse, chefs vying for top culinary honors using market offerings, agriculture-related educators offering tips and insights to adults and children, with local musicians providing a soundtrack of homegrown music. It is a quintessential community event that grows connections exponentially each year. We welcome its return.

This year’s market will feature more than 30 local farms – from the five counties in the region – as well as booths to procure herbs, arts and crafts, massages and prepared foods. The early season at the market has a somewhat limited produce offering, but the range of products marketwide is impressive from the start. Gardeners can purchase starts for their own beds at the market. Eggs, honey, candles and cheese are available, as is an abundant supply of locally raised meats.

The Farmers Market participates in the food stamp program, and, in doing so, offers fresh, healthful food to all community members, and offers its own currency to be used at any of the market’s vendors. The notion of nurturing a robust local economy runs deep at the market, making it a truly homegrown community institution.

The weather may not cooperate to provide the signature warm, sunny Saturday morning for the market’s 2013 kickoff, but that should not stop Durangoans from turning out for the morning event. The moisture the clouds are slated to deliver will pay big dividends for the season to come, and Saturday brings a welcome opportunity to reconnect with neighbors, friends and the many products this region has to offer its residents and visitors.

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