The Boulder County Farmers' Market is officially open, only it doesn't look the way it did last year. At least, not yet.
Instead of a line of stalls brimming with produce and the smiling faces of farmers and their workers, on Saturday, May 2, the Longmont Fairgrounds staff waited at checkpoints in masks, their features unidentifiable. While their expressions weren't readable, the information they provided customers was clear and easy to follow.
For those who'd ordered ahead, as I had, most of the instructions had arrived in an email the night before, including an order number, pick-up time (in our case, between 11 and 11:30 a.m.) and safety protocols. Yes, I was expected to wear a mask. No, I couldn't leave my car, nor could I select my own leafy greens, tomatoes or cucumbers. Instead, I'd made my selections online using what the market organizers have dubbed BCFM2Go, which includes a registration form and a digital inventory with prices, purveyors and descriptions. After placing my order and paying, I received the confirmation email with further instructions.
Once we arrived at the market, we had no direct contact with anyone save for the brief moment when we opened a car window just enough to shout out our order number.
The items I had picked out online came neatly packed in a brown paper bag. While I couldn't see what was inside, I had faith it was filled with cucumbers and tomatoes from Honeyacre Produce, Swiss chard from Croft Family Farms, arugula and spicy frills from Ollin Farms, asparagus from Kiowa Valley Organics, potatoes from Miller Farms, dried fruit from Ela Family Farms and tortillas from Tortilleria La Esmeralda.
We'd also ordered kale and lettuce starts from WeeBee Farms and a pack of herbs from Aspen Moon Farm to plant in our own home garden. These were at another stand, so once the staff placed our bag of produce in the trunk of our car, we rolled another 200 or so feet to the next stop. Here Brian Coppom, director of the BCFM, manned the tent, recognizable only by his trademark straw farmer's hat. He also wore a peach-printed mask, a sad but necessary addition to this year's BCFM online merchandise offerings.
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The plan, Coppom explained from across the table as we sat in the car, was to open the other market locations in a few weeks, including Boulder, Lafayette and Denver's Union Station. Sure, early on they may have safety protocols that resemble those at the current Longmont version, but they will reopen more fully, eventually.
The only thing set in stone is that the farmers will continue to grow food and people will continue to need to eat.
By the way, my order was exactly right. My only regret was not ordering more asparagus, spinach and potatoes. After all, a pound of potatoes isn't as much as you might think, and the asparagus was so good that we went through the bunch quickly and wanted more for the rest of the week. Judging from this start, the quality of this year’s farm season could be the silver lining to an otherwise difficult 2020.
Order a batch of fresh vegetables, coffee, plants and more from the BCFM website, bcfm.localfoodmarketplace.com, for pick-up next Saturday, May 9. Pick-up times are between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the fairgrounds where the Longmont farmers' market is usually held, at 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont.