The 2019 Union Station Farmers' Market wrapped up its season on Saturday, October 26. The weather proved beautiful, a perfect fall morning and early afternoon to get the last root vegetables, squash and lettuces before Sunday's cold snap took over.
"It's bittersweet right now," said Union Station Farmers' Market coordinator Bri Boyer, who was dressed like the cartoon character Totoro for the market's costume contest. "I'm going to miss this a lot, and it's been a really fun season."
Over at the chef's demo booth, Jon Lavelle cooked up a storm on behalf of Fruition, where he took over the prestigious position as chef de cuisine in July. Frantically, he sent his helper to check the pot of water they were hoping would boil soon so the fall vegetable pasta dish would be completed in time. Spoiler: It was, and the resulting plate of scrumptious noodles, which showcased end-of-season produce including tarragon, tatsoi and kale from Croft Family Farm, giant rutabaga and kohlrabi from Thistle Whistle Farm and cabbage from Micro Farms, was worth the wait. Lavelle also threw in a little pork belly from the restaurant for good measure.
Over at Ollin Farms, owner Mark Guttridge, along with his niece and daughter, sold warty pumpkins, pie pumpkins, delicata squash and radishes. Right now, he noted, is his favorite time of year.
"I'm excited about the end of the season, and it was nice to see Denver grow as a market and more young people coming by," said Guttridge. "Now I can transition into different work, like mushroom experiments, and I will do a lot of planning. Winter is when all the planning occurs, and if you're not planned by March, you're behind."
Around the booths, the mood was festive and a little giddy, especially when we visited Mile High Fungi and its neighbor, Raleigh Street Bakery. The owners had taken the market's costume contest to new extremes and greeted patrons as the other stalls owners. That meant a giggling Liz Nail lent her Mile High Mushroom hoodie next door and drew on a fake beard, much to the enjoyment of regulars who know both teams well. Humor and shiitakes make for real fungi and fun gals.
"The end of the market this season is bittersweet, and we all eat so much better throughout the season thanks to our fellow producers," Nail explained. "But I feel so accomplished: We made it through another year and all the hurdles. Farming is hard, and it will be nice to take a break and sleep in."
Not every farmer will get the luxury right away. While the Union Station market has closed for the year, you can still pick up the last of the harvest at the Boulder County Farmers' Market Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until November 23; the Longmont market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. until November 23; and the South Pearl Street farmers' market Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until November 17.
Once that's over, we'll see you in 2020, with more goodies from the gardens and coverage of local farmers' markets, along with the farmers who make them so awesome.