On the 2500 block of South Colorado Boulevard, an iconic red sign points the way to the ’50s-vintage University Hills Plaza. It also marks the spot where the University Hills Farmers Market sets up shop in the summer.
Now in its fifth season, the treasured neighborhood market opens again on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot at University Hills. Launched in 2018 by Robin Singer-Starbuck, the outdoor market hosts around seventy vendors, from farm stands to baked goods to pet products, all made or sourced locally.
"I’ve built this market [from the] ground up, and it is such a deep joy to give back to a community I have loved my whole life," says Singer-Starbuck, who grew up in south Denver. "It's in close proximity to an awful lot of residential areas, it's centrally located, there is a nice walk-through flow, and I spread the vendors out so you find a little bit of everything for everyone throughout."
University Hills Plaza
University Hills Plaza's iconic sign.
has a long history in Denver. Opened in 1955, it was one of the city's main shopping hubs for many years. But like many malls and larger retail areas, the space began to decline over the past decade as tenants left and businesses moved online. In 2018, Singer-Starbuck came in to manage the plaza, filling empty spaces and revitalizing the strip. When she signed on, she'd done so with the idea of opening a seasonal farmers' market in the parking lot.
As it turned out, the city council had recently done a survey in the area on what people wanted to see in their neighborhood, and a farmers' market was high on the list. Singer-Starbuck made it happen, and she remains the marketing manager, main helper and go-to market gal.
Find Front Range Apothecary at the University Hills Farmers Market.
The first year, there were around twenty vendors, but that number has grown each year since. In general, says Singer-Starbuck, 60 percent of the stalls sell food in some capacity, either fresh, prepared or preserved, such as sauces, jams and spices. Greeters are posted at each entrance to help with everything from giving directions to relieving vendors who need a quick break.
The 2022 vendor lineup includes, but isn't limited to, Good Food Good Living, Bjorn’s Honey, Crystal’s Garden, Everybody Must Get Scones, La Biche, Garden Coffee, Pete’s Kombucha, Tamales Lady, Pastamore, Toby’s Po'boys, Mom’s Pralines, Milford Spice, Mush Love/Charlie, Paws & Us and Vicki’s Boutique along with various food trucks and pop-ups. On the produce side, there's Palizzi Farms from Brighton and Forte Fruit from Palisade.
"I'm thrilled the market has gotten as strong as it has," says Singer-Starbuck. "It's become quite a thing for the community, and I am so excited that I am attached to something that's such a feel-good in the area."
Additionally, the market works as a catalyst to raise money for schools. Singer-Starbuck has invited the local schools that have a garden to sell their produce at the market without a vendor fee. She also allows endeavors such as the nonprofit Denver Urban Gardens
, Compost Colorado
and Denver's Community Planning and Development
to have booths without paying for the space. Shoppers can enjoy live music and plenty of delicious samples being dished out as they wander around.
The University Hills Farmers Market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October 29, rain or shine. Looking for more farmers' markets? Check out our list of every market
in the Denver metro area.