The season for farmers' markets
is coming to a close, but worry not; Boulder Country Farmers Markets
(BCFM) has the solution. Enter the annual Winter Market, a special two-day event that will take place inside the event center at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, at 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont, on December 3 and 4.
"A lot of the holiday season focuses on feasting," says BCFM executive director Mackenzie Sehlke. "The Winter Market is a great time to celebrate the end of the year, friends, family and local squash."
While the market vendor list hasn't been solidified yet, expect over 150 stalls showcasing artisans, farmers and food producers, all from Colorado. And even though the winter market is short lived, customers can keep the good food rolling with BCFM's curbside program. This option goes all year long, and orders can be placed online at bcfm.org
Here are ten reasons to make sure BCFM's Winter Market is part of your holiday shopping plans:
Root vegetables for sale at the Boulder Farmers Market.
1. The Winter Market is the perfect opportunity to meet new and emerging farmers, producers and artisans. Yes, you will see some veterans from the regular Boulder and Longmont markets there, but there will also be more handicrafts and gift items that are perfect for the holiday season. "There are customers that are die-hards, that come with their wagons and wait for the bell and know all the best farmers," says Sehlke. "We love them, but we are excited to meet people who we have never met, like people who grow daikon for a living."
2. Customers shopping with SNAP and WIC benefits get double the funds. The BCFM matches up to $20 for both of these, so it's a great opportunity to spend any food-access dollars collected over the season and make sure the benefits don't expire.
3. Fill up on local produce before the dead of winter. "It's certain to say you will find the best seasonal, cold-hardy fruits and vegetables that are grown to last long," says Sehlke. "I think it's a pleasure and a party trick to pull out a daikon or impress guests with spaghetti squash."
Apples and pears from Ela Family Farms.
4. Even if you don't end up shopping, the winter market is a great hang overall, says Sehlke. "Holiday shopping and preparation can feel stressful, but here you can spend time indoors, with your community, and talk to farmers about what will be good for gifts," she adds. "Not only are you able to spend time shopping for a holiday feast, but you can bring friends and kids, things smell good, and there's music."
5. While there, learn about the Take 5 for Local challenge. This comes from a new grant the BCFM received that will help spread the word about eating, shopping for and cooking local foods. "The whole point is to use the money to promote simple actions our community can take to support farmers," says Sehlke. For example, bring five friends to a farmers' market, spend $5 on a new food item you've never tried, or talk to five farmers about what's in season. There are so many ways to get people to look at local commodities differently, she adds.
6. The Winter Market is great for kids, too. While details aren't solidified, expect crafts, a scavenger hunt and plenty of opportunities for little ones to try new things. Families can visit different vendors and talk about how things are made and/or grown, different animals on the farm, and learn about why eating farm-fresh, local foods is important not only for your body, but for the economy, too. After all, we are raising the next generation of eaters, shoppers and possible food activists.
Ollin Farms' warty pumpkins.
7. Get up close and personal with farmers. "[The farmers] are excited to sample things out and talk about the craziest, wartiest pumpkin," says Sehlke. "The great thing about small producers is they really want you see it and smell it and learn what's grown here," so ask questions and learn about something new and delicious.
8. If you're a maker (or an aspiring one), vending at the market is a great opportunity for those who haven't committed to a summer-long market to get a taste of the experience. Give it a try and see if you can and/or want to sell that amazing hot sauce or kimchi you make with local produce. The vendor application is still open
. "It's great for new producers and new artists, for them to give us a try," notes Sehlke. "It's a good way for us to try out new producers and new bakers, too."
9. Get a taste of the holidays in a cozy building that has a long history of being used for agriculture. Located on the Boulder County Fairgrounds
, the event center will be transformed into a winter wonderland. Plus, it's free to visit.
10. Shopping the Winter Market isn't just beneficial for customers and the vendors selling, it's good for the BCFM as a nonprofit, as well. Since the late 1980s, the company has worked to maintain a growers-only lineup at its markets, and the same idea translates to the special winter version. While more handicrafts will be present — think hand-pulled and dyed wool from locally raised sheep, artisan baked goods and Colorado crafted booze — it's all chosen with the same idea of bringing exposure to the wonders found in the state and the people who make it all happen. Supporting BCFM helps keep the momentum going and shows more customers why local goods are important.