It’s that time of year when life gets more colorful, which means your refrigerator should be getting more colorful, too. The organizers of Durango’s farmers markets have gotten their hands dirty and are gearing up for the 2019 season. There will be new farmers and artisans who will be supplying hand-crafted goods, regional produce and nourishing foods from farms and pastures.
There are a few changes to this year’s calendar. Durango is down a market – the Three Springs market that took place on Thursdays last year will not be returning. The Animas City Farmers Market has restructured as the Animas City Night Bazaar and has dropped to once a month. But there is still a bounty of opportunities to stock up on this year’s harvest.
Durango Farmers MarketThe Durango Farmers Market is one of the largest markets in the area, with around 50 to 65 vendors that will set up every Saturday starting Mother’s Day weekend on May 11. (The first 50 moms receive a free flower or tomato plant.) There are around 80 vendors total from La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan, N.M., counties.
Market Manager Melanie McKinney-Gonzales was able to lock down a handful of new farmers, such as Hesperus’ High Pine Produce, the owner of which, Max Kirks, also operates the Smiley Market, and Jake’s Farm, which will supply poultry, including duck, chicken and turkey meat and chicken and quail eggs. On the red-meat side, Sacred Song Farm out of Mancos will provide a variety of pork, beef and lamb. A new farmer from Aztec, Elders Greenhouse and Gardens, will be making the commute this year as well.
Returning vendors include Dolores’ Summit Roots Farm, Bayfield’s Homegrown Farms and Durango’s Long Table Farms. Long Table launched the Three Springs market last year. Pinyon Crest, Botanical Companions, Peacetree Organix and Tilted Earth and many others will also be back.
“Oh! And we have a mushroom guy this year, “ McKinney-Gonzales said.
Justin West and Brady Wilson of Sacred Valley Farms, who have a mycology certification, will sell wild-harvested and cultivated mushrooms.
To spice and season the market’s produce and meats, Durango Artisan Foods will be serving their lineup of locally-made hot sauces, condiments and spices. All of that can be washed down with a cider from Mancos’ Fenceline Cider, which will be selling its tart beverages made with regionally sourced apples.
“We have a knife-sharpening service which has been sorely missed in the past years,” McKinney-Gonzales said.
Wild Mountain Forge relocated from Santa Fe to Mancos and sells hand-made knives and will sharpen any dull blade.
Mariana’s Asian Foods will no longer be at the market, but Finn’s Wurst Sausages, which also will be at Animas City Night Bazaar, is a new food vendor that serves German-style sausages. The meat is from Monte Vista, the spuds and cabbage are sourced from 550 Farms, and their German-style rolls are from Bread. Finn’s will be fermenting their own sauerkraut as well. Thimbleberry Smoothie is another newbie that serves smoothies and smoothie bowls.
McKinney-Gonzales wants attendees to know that the third row that was added last season will be there again this year and will include other artisans and farmers, not just info booths. And if a vendor doesn’t have credit card capabilities, anyone can visit the market info booth to purchase Market Bucks with a card. One Market Buck equals one dollar and can be used with any vendor.
“They have been doing this over five years; there are still some people who still don’t know about it,” she said.
The Durango Farmers Market takes place from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday and is located in the parking lot of TBK Bank at 259 W. 9th St. The market is also partnering with the Transit Center to encourage public transportation on market days. Riders get a punch card that will be entered in two raffles throughout the summer.
Smiley MarketThe small Tuesday market from 3 to 6 p.m. returns this year on June 18. The project evolved from Max Kirks’ CSA program. The drop-off site was at Smiley and he eventually started selling additional products to people who wanted it. This transformed into a market last year.
Kirks started High Pine at the Old Fort Market Garden Incubator Program. The program gives new farmers the opportunity to lease land so they can learn how to farm without going all-in and into debt. Kirks wants to represent these farmers in the Smiley market.
“We focus on new vendors and give them a chance to experience the market without the stress and commitment,” Kirks said. “It is a smaller market, so it gives them a chance to get their feet wet.”
He currently has only a few vendors locked in. Returning will be the fresh eggs from the Veterans Homestead Project and meat products from the Old Fort. He is currently accepting applications. It’s an 18-week commitment and costs $10 per market.
Kirks said the weekday market gives people the opportunity to stock up on fresh foods mid-week. He is aiming for a more European-style market that focuses on food rather than artisans. The smaller size gives customers more of an opportunity to talk with the vendors. He said they are trying to appeal to the working class and people who typically don’t shop at farmers markets.
“Even myself, I get a little overwhelmed with all the options and cost of things. We want to target other populations – it’s like training wheels for people,” he said.
The market is located outside the southeast corner of the Smiley Building on East Third Avenue.
Both the Durango and Smiley markets accept SNAP benefits and participate in the Double Up Food Bucks program, in which SNAP recipients get an extra dollar for every dollar spent on fruits and veggies.
Animas City Night BazaarThe market is transitioning from a weekly to a monthly event starting May 29. It will run the last Wednesday of each month through Sept. 25 from 5 to 8 p.m. It will be located at 3057 Main Ave., in the parking lot behind Smile by Design, providing a market convenient to north Durango residents.
While the Animas City Night Bazaar may have lost some dates, it’s added new artisans, hot food vendors and entertainment. According to its website, the lineup includes: Passion Flower Bouquet Farm, Grassburger, Purple Ice Cream Truck, Kate Art Deal, Pathfinder Chiropractic, Silverwave Seafood, Breen Mesa Farm, Finn’s Wurst Sausage, Scrappy Apple Leather, Snowcapridge, Boho Mountain Zen jewelry and Bitchin’ Cookies. There will also be beer, wine, cocktails and live music.
“There are a lot of cool potters, jewelers and photographers who don’t have a good outlet to sell, and we’ll offer them an environment that they didn’t have before,” Night Bazaar co-organizer Erin Murphy told the Herald previously. “We’ll have a shopping experience that you can’t find anywhere else.”