For the first time this year, I headed to the popular South Pearl Street Farmers' Market, an institution that has graced the Old South Pearl Street area in south Denver for sixteen years. I was floored by the variety of vendors selling everything from meat to bath products to liquor and, of course, Colorado-grown produce. Right now, apricots, peaches, snap peas, dill, kale, cherries and green beans are all in season, but there are plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables making a splash at the market.
Every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., guests can wander the sunny street and see what's in season at dozens of local farms, as well as check out two distilleries, two wineries, a couple of coffee vendors, two separate honey purveyors, four places that make natural stuff to slather on your body, and enough condiments to stock every summer barbecue from here to Labor Day and beyond. You can choose to patronize tiny farms like the third-of-an-acre Brown Dog Farm in Golden, stuff a $10 bag of produce from Miller Farms out of Platteville, or see what a new group, the Lakewood Homestead Collective, has been growing since joining together this year.
If you're hungry for something right then and there, well, you're in luck. Along Florida Avenue, food trucks such as Arepas House, Base Camp and Ba-Nom-a-Nom have set up a dining nook under the trees. And farther into the market, down Pearl Street, you can nibble on fresh-made goodies from Euro Crepes, green-chile-laced pierogi by Baba & Pop's, sausages from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, "clean" energy bars from Patter Bar, and spiced nuts and seeds from Pueblo-based Kaizen Snacks. Pit master Bobby Morris came all the way from Austin to start the Colorado Brisket Company, and right now the only place to get his Texas-style smoked brisket is at this Sunday market.
Then, after you have filled up on all the savory goodies, cool off with a refreshing ice pop from Aikopops, whose main shop is just up Pearl Street from the market. The flavors change seasonally (think cantaloupe-thyme and pineapple-vanilla); owner Jonny Stixx also makes boozy pops for adults who need a little pick-me-up. Visitors can also quash a sweet tooth with a treat by the eleven-year-old Marsha's Cookies, sample fresh apple cake from Crumbles Bakery, or go for a European-style baked good by Rinaldo's Paris Bakery.
Juice lovers will adore the offerings from Breen Juice, a small business that not only serves organic beverages at the market, but will also deliver a weekly supply to your Denver home or office. Try a sparkling tea laced with hops from the Boulder-based HopTea, or go for an energizing shot of freshly pressed wheat grass from the Urban Greenhouse.
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Want meat? Donoma Farms in Nunn raises and processes chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, beef and yak. Out of Larkspur is Snow Creek Ranch, run by a family that works between its Colorado home and farm and a ranch in Kansas and sells Angus beef burgers, roasts and steaks at the market. Freshly made jerky from Eddy's Beef Jerky is another great way to go, especially if you have a long car ride ahead. Cheese from Mini Moos and Kids Too, a small family-run goat farm in Cañon City, also makes for great snacking.
With so many vendors, it's easy to spend hours looking, sampling and buying goods. Visit the market from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Sunday from now until November 18, and discover why this seasonal event has been going strong for more than a decade. For more photos, see our complete South Pearl Street Farmers' Market slideshow.