If one word could describe the last day of the 2018 Union Station Farmers' Market and the end of the fall growing season it would be "bittersweet," and just about everyone we talked to there on Saturday, October 20, used that phrase.
"It's always kind of bittersweet when that first freeze comes in, but once it happens it's a relief, because we're so tired," says Christian Toohey, owner of Boulder-based Toohey & Sons Organic
, whose farm got the first deep freeze last Sunday when temps hit 12 degrees. "We are still farming a little, but a lot of our work now is end-of-season cleanup."
Christian Toohey of Toohey & Sons Organic.
Not that anyone would ascertain the growing season was over by the looks of the market. The weather proved perfect, sunny and warm enough for a T-shirt in the sun or light sweater in the shade. A solid blue sky with nary a rain cloud in sight canopied the day, and enough bright produce was for sale that it was hard to picture that first frost Toohey mentioned. You could even say it was the perfect time to be at the farmers' market, and based on the meandering crowd, others agreed.
Two market-goers holding up giant kohlrabi and a turnip from Thistle Whistle Farm.
All around the market, shoppers picked up hearty winter squash, which gleamed in shades of orange, white, yellow and green. It was the right time for apples, too, and the samples given out by Ela Family Farms
proved sweet and juicy. Peppers were in abundance at stands run by Thistle Whistle Farm
and Lost Creek Farm, and came in all varietals, heat levels, colors and sizes, such as himo togarashi frying peppers, aji Colorados and cayennes.
Colorful winter squash grown by ACRES at Warren Tech.
As customers came and went from his stand, Josh Olsen of ACRES at Warren Tech
peddled celery root and Georgia candy roaster squashes. He, too, said he found the last day to be a little sad but also a relief. "We all look forward to the end of the season, but are also already thinking about next year and how to refine the process," he says.
A pile of celery root grown by ACRES at Warren Tech.
ACRES at Warren Tech's farm technician, Dave DeMalteris, and chef/instructor Josh Olsen.
At the True West Tacos
cart, the 2018 farmers' market has proven a real boon to the business.
"It was dope, and it's amazing how many people came in from the A Line and didn't know the market was going on," says Brady Berno, who worked the True West stand all season. "You get a two-hour wait for Snooze
and people are like, 'I don't want to do that' and would come get a breakfast taco."
The year was so good, says Berno, that as long as they are asked back, True West Tacos plans to have a stand again next year, even though the venture just opened up a more permanent spot inside American Bonded
in RiNo. Growth on all fronts appears to be the major theme of 2018.
Lovely greens were still available at the Union Station Farmers' Market's last day.
Marcus McCauley of McCauley Family Farms in Longmont.
"This season was pretty good, and we got to make new relationships and meet the community," says Marcus McCauley of McCauley Family Farms
in Longmont. "There's a lot of excitement growing about the market, but we need to get the word out even more."
Micro Farms had a bevy of end-of-season tomatoes, peppers and more.
Squash available at Cure Organic Farm out of Boulder.
Elyse Wood, operations manager for Boulder County Farmers Markets
(which runs the Union Station market) agrees. This was the first year the Union Station Farmers' Market was self-sustaining. When it started in 2016, it had the backing of the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program, and this was the first season the venture did without that help. So far, it's working well.
"We want to continue to become ingrained in the Denver community," says Wood. "Slow growth is a real thing, and we are in it for the long haul and plan to continue to grow."
Come 2019, we will see the farmers' market again in Union Station, with spring's freshness and variety. Until then, you can still shop at the Saturday Boulder Farmers' Market from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Saturday Longmont market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., both until November 17.
Potatoes are in season and available all winter.
Crumbles Bakery sells all kinds of fresh-baked cakes.
Grains From the Plains features Colorado-grown wheat berries and other grains.
Apples and pears from Ela Family Farms.
A wagon of winter squash at the Union Station Farmers' Market.