Farmers' Markets

Farmers' Market Finds: Rocky Mountain Fresh Is an Oasis of Fruits and Vegetables

Rocky Mountain Fresh grows traditional and hydroponic produce in Longmont, Colorado.
Rocky Mountain Fresh grows traditional and hydroponic produce in Longmont, Colorado. Ashlee Redger
It's peak season for farmers’ markets. No matter your neighborhood, you can find local produce and handcrafted goodies near you. In Farmers' Market Finds, recipe developer and freelance writer Ashlee Redger highlights some stand-out local farmers' market vendors and dishes up a recipe using their goods.

Vendor:
Rocky Mountain Fresh

Where to find it: Boulder and Longmont Farmers Markets on Saturdays and South Pearl Street Farmers Market on Sundays

For more info: Visit rmfresh.com
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The produce at the Rocky Mountain Fresh stand includes heirloom tomatoes, squash, strawberries, melons, onions, peppers and more.
Ashlee Redger
About the business:
Walking through a weekend farmers' market these days can feel chaotic, navigating crowds as a rush of local bakers, wine makers, jam mavens and veggie picklers all vie to share their stories (and delicious products) with as many passersby as possible. Amid all of this, though, there exists a respite — an oasis of vegetables and fruits that evokes the truth behind its status as a farm stand: the Rocky Mountain Fresh tent.

You may still have to wait in line to make it to this little produce paradise, but once inside, there is a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, leafy greens and a variety of peppers. Depending on the time of the season, there are even blooming flowers along with starter herbs and succulents for green thumbs. It's a tremendous showing, and we have the Marsh family to thank for it.

Jeremy Marsh started Rocky Mountain Fresh in 2011. Unlike many farmers, Marsh did not come from an agricultural background or grow up in a growing family. Before starting his own operation, he was a hobbyist. "I just had a passion for gardening and growing plants," Marsh explains. "I had pretty large backyard gardens and thought I could possibly make a living doing it."

He quickly settled on greenhouse production as the most viable way to grow vegetables in the Colorado region and found a small one in Arvada to get started. Soon he had expanded to two different locations in Arvada plus a greenhouse in Lyons. Marsh has since consolidated all of the Rocky Mountain Fresh growing to Longmont and runs the entire business with plenty of help from his family: His wife operates the back end of the business, his mom tends to the array of succulents, and the kids help with the growing. When it's market time, everyone gets involved in running the stands.
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Rocky Mountain Fresh grows a majority of its crops in a ground coconut medium called coco coir.
Rocky Mountain Fresh/Facebook
While Rocky Mountain Fresh does use its four acres outside to plant crops like melons, peppers and eggplant, the two greenhouse acres are where a majority of its star produce comes from. Marsh focuses on hydroponic growing, which involves planting in coco coir, a water-retentive medium made of ground coconut. He estimates that about 80 percent of Rocky Mountain Fresh's production is hydroponic tomatoes — not surprising considering the diversity, which includes varietals like rosy Brandywines, Striped Germans, Cherokee Purples, BeOranges and one of Marsh's favorites, sweet Pink Beauties.

Even with the majority of space going to tomatoes, Marsh enjoys planting a wide variety of veggies and fruits. For example, after a successful trial crop last year, he's devoting more greenhouse space to Hawaiian-sourced, Colorado-grown ginger root. "It's exciting because it's not readily available in Colorado, having fresh ginger root," he notes. "I think it's more flavorful than ginger that's been imported, and we can pick it younger, so it's more tender and not as fibrous." Be on the lookout for the ginger harvest later this season.

In the upcoming weeks, you'll start to see ripe melons available as well as peak-season summer squash, zucchini and patty pan-type squashes. If you can't make it to one of the farmers' markets, Rocky Mountain Fresh tomatoes (as well as its crowd-favorite cucumbers) are also provided to local restaurants and grocers like Marczyk Fine Foods.
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Up your tomato toast game by zhooshing up mayonnaise with mustard, garlic and nutritional yeast.
Ashlee Redger
How to use it: Veggies that fresh from the greenhouse (or ground) are best served simply. Most of what you'll find at the Rocky Mountain Fresh stand is absolutely delicious when sliced up raw with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. A quick flash on a scorching grill or cast-iron pan will do for selections like shishitos, summer squash and charming fairytale eggplants.

Unless you've somehow missed the seasonal heirloom frenzy that rears every summer, you already know there's really no better way to enjoy a fancy tomato than in thick slabs on top of a generously mayo'ed slice of sourdough.

Punch up your toast by making this umami-packed mayo. It gets its umami savoriness through the use of nutritional yeast — aka "nooch" — which adds an intense parmesan-esque flavor, plus a touch of yeasty funk (in the best possible way). Stock up on flaky salt, because you're not going to want anything else for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Umami Mayo
Makes just over 1/2 cup mayonnaise, enough for about four toasts

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons whole grain or coarse ground mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (more to taste)
1 clove pickled or roasted garlic, minced (alternatively, mince and use a small clove of raw garlic for a sharper bite)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the mustard and garlic are well incorporated.
  2. Use the mayo right away or store it for a few hours to let the flavors meld. Either way, keep what you don't use immediately in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  3. To use, slather the umami mayo generously onto a slice of toasted crusty bread. Top with big slices of your choice of heirloom tomato and sprinkle with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper to finish. Add some freshly chopped parsley — or even better, chives — if you're feeling extra fancy.

    Pro tip: Thin this spread out with lemon juice or white wine vinegar for a creamy-tangy salad dressing.
As a bonus snack or side, try a few slices of plain tomato with a pinch of sugar on top. It may sound strange, but the sweetness can make a firm, acidic tomato taste ripe, and add balance to one that's already perfectly savory.
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Don't miss out on Rocky Mountain Fresh's assortment of crisp and flavorful cucumber varieties.
Rocky Mountain Fresh/Instagram
Bonus farmers' market finds:
We're entering the hottest season for local produce. Visit Rocky Mountain Fresh for hydroponically grown vegetables, then check out everything else that's in season right now:
  • Apricots will only be around for a few more weeks before they're replaced by plums and an abundance of Palisade peaches.
  • Corn is at its sweetest. Give it the elote treatment or cut kernels raw off the cob and mix with cilantro, diced chiles and plenty of lime juice for a relish or side.
  • Cruciferous vegetables — think cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli — are in the first half of their season. Don't turn on your oven to roast these bad boys. Instead, cook them hot and fast in a basket on the grill. Finish with drops of fancy vinegar and chili flakes. The same goes for green beans.
  • Do turn on your oven for beets. Wrap tightly in foil and roast until soft and sweet. Too hot to even think about the oven? Be bold — don your apron and finely shred ’em to use in salads and ruby-hued slaws.
  • Cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelons are ready for snacking or pairing with cured meats and cheeses.
  • Get ready to stock up on fresh and roasted chiles. More market and roadside stands will be popping up in the next month and will stick around until autumn.
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Ashlee Redger is a recipe developer and food geek with strong Midwestern roots. When she’s not cooking & baking, you can find her obsessing about podcasts, acting busy in coffee shops and searching for fancy cocktails around town.
Contact: Ashlee Redger