Boulder County Farmers' Market
Juliet Wittman

Unlike many of the markets that have sprouted up across the metro area, the Boulder Farmers' Market is truly a farmers' market, a place set up so that local farmers can sell their goods and customers can meet the people who produce their food. You can stop by a stall and ask the farmer why your raspberries at home are dying, how he cooks chard or how his crops were affected by last year's flood. You can discover new and interesting vegetables you'd never find in the store, like small creamy-white eggplants or the huge, delicious, pale-lilac variety called Violette di Firenze; the market also features amazing plants to put in your own garden. Not a vegetarian, but don't want to feel guilty about eating meat? The ranchers and chicken farmers will describe in careful detail the lives of the creatures they raised — none of which suffered the way commodity animals do. Buy duck or duck eggs. Try goat. The market also boasts, among many other things, baked goods and toffee, great coffee, salmon, bread, honey and jams, soaps and flowers. And as the summer unfolds, you'll find — more or less in this order — strawberries, apricots, plums, peaches, raspberries, crisp apples and succulent pears.

Boulder County Farmers' Market
Juliet Wittman

Every year, Matt Aboussie goes to Alaska's Bristol Bay — the world's largest sockeye-salmon run — to fish for salmon, and then sells the delicious, omega-3 laden fish at the Boulder Farmers' Market: flash-frozen, hand-cut, boneless, skin-on fillets; smoked salmon flavored with peppercorns or dill; a fine silky lox. Aboussie is almost always manning the stall, and if you stop to buy and chat you'll find out he's passionate about a couple of things besides fishing. He's evangelical about the movement to protect Bristol Bay from mining for copper and gold — "These fish are the ecological heartbeat of one of the most pristine and valuable regions on the planet," says his vivid, beautifully designed website — and he also loves to cook. Not only will he share any culinary discoveries he's made, fishy or otherwise, but he's also interested in how you'll cook your salmon (very briefly, we'd suggest, and without smothering the clean taste under a lot of other ingredients).

At Broken Shovels, there's no hiding where artisanal cheeses ultimately come from. Andrea Martin's working goat farm is the backdrop for her weekly Sunday on-farm markets, where tours of the goat pens and sheds go hoof-to-hoof with the merchandise — creamy, beautifully crafted kheer-flavored yogurt, Ethiopian spiced logs, Camembert rounds and cognac Banons wrapped in grape leaves, that Martin makes and packages herself — throughout the summer, and again for fall holidays. While you taste the cheeses and sample goods from a couple of other vendors, Martin will even grill up tasty cheese-and-jam sandwiches over a wood fire. But right now is the time to meet the babies at Broken Shovels, where spring has sprung and the adorable kids and fancy chickens are hopping all over the place. It's a joyous rural experience for grownups and kids — human kids — alike, and it's only fifteen minutes from downtown Denver.

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