A roiling, murky-brown Animas River, flurries that give way to sunshine chilled by brisk wind and patio seating emerging from restaurants’ winter hideaways are sure signs that spring is taking hold in Durango. Prominent among these telltale harbingers of warm weather’s bounty is the opening of the Durango Farmers Market. Saturday will kick off this year’s Farmers Market season, and it is worth a visit to the First National Bank parking lot to see what treats local growers, artisans and food purveyors have cultivated since last October.
Fruit, flowers, vegetables, meats, cheeses, breads and sweet treats, soaps, candles, crafts, pottery, plants for your own garden, music, tool sharpening, massage and face painting are among the various offerings of the wide-ranging Farmers Market vendors. These are the tools with which the Farmers Market aims to achieve its mission to strengthen community 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 Durango Farmers Market seeks to improve the quality of life for all community members.”
It has worked steadily, progressively and successfully in this vein since 1997, and has grown to include more than 30 vendors from five local counties who cultivate roots in the region in the literal and figurative sense. The bounty that these farmers, artists, chefs and skilled crafts people offer is premiere and primary, but the community-building byproduct of their wares and the venue where they are sold is as valuable or more so.
Each Saturday morning is a de facto neighborhood party for all of Durango and its environs. Over coffee and kale, friends, colleagues, neighbors and political rivals can chat about the day’s news – public and private. Ideas sprout, conversations begin, deals are struck. It is, in every sense, an organic venue to celebrate this local community.
The vendors at the Farmers Market, as well as its organizers, deserve special tribute for their efforts at cultivating the best products and environment – social and otherwise – for the Durango community. Farming is hard work, and while the rewards are many, it is not necessarily a path to riches. Those who dedicate themselves to producing healthy, local food to nourish their friends and neighbors are providing an invaluable service. This community’s commitment to and support of its farmers is a testament to how important their work – and their wares – are to our region, both to families and the local economy. The Farmers Market provides an excellent conduit through which people can connect with their food in a meaningful way – by getting to know the people who produce it.
The Farmers Market will grow throughout this season as more local bounty ripens with the warming days. Enjoy the inaugural Durango Farmers Market on Saturday, and make it a tradition for the Saturdays to follow through October.