I love spending time at Farmer's Markets, but I hate it when they turn into crafts fairs or a place for people to resell produce they got from a big distributor and was shipped from 6 states away. If I wanted crafts, I'd go to a craft fair. If I wanted non-local produce, I'd go to the grocery store. I'm admittedly a tough customer. I expect when I walk into a Farmer's Market to be able to find locally grown and produced items. That's exactly what I found at the Denver Urban Homesteading Farmer's Market. Here's what they have to say about their goals:
Do you know where your food comes from? We know where ours comes from and we know the people who grow it. One of the goals of our urban agricultural center is to provide that information to our customers and help strengthen the bonds between the farmer and the consumer, to make transparent the route from the farm to the table. In order to this, it is our goal to visit all the farms selling at our market, to understand their food production processes and to feel confident that the food is grown or prepared with agricultural, nutritional and environmental integrity.Sounds like my kind of people!
The building is an older brick warehouse with huge wood doors. When you first walk in you'll see a reception area with a desk, some shelves with local products, 2 freezers, and a refrigerated case. Don't pass this area up before going into the main farmer's market area! There's a lot of good stuff here. You can find preserves and dried apples from Ela Family Farms by the door. I made apple sauce from their apples this fall. It is amazing.
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In the fridge there is milk from Morning Fresh Dairy Farms. I know I keep mentioning them, but seriously, their milk is that good. You have to pay $1.50 bottle deposit the first time you buy their milk, and the milk I got (Cream-Top, N won't let any fat free stuff in this house) was $3.00. So, I paid $4.50 this time. But you bring the bottle back next time and the bottle deposit rolls over to your next purchase. So next week it'll be just $3.00. They have chocolate milk and the best egg nog I've had in a long time. And you get to drink your milk from a glass jug, how cool is that?!
In the refrigerator case with the milk you can also find Hazel Dell mushrooms. I didn't get any this time, but I've had theirs before. Their mushrooms are delicious. They had 1/2 pound packages of assorted mushrooms for around $6-8. Totally worth it!
One of the freezers has locally raised trout and tilapia. It's greenhouse raised and comes from Aquagreen. I think N wants me to pick some up next Saturday.
The other freezer has Red Trolley ice cream. Maybe next Saturday...
I had so much fun talking to the lady at the Berry Patch Farms table. She is cheerful and nice and loves her farm. She has several types of dried beans. I was really excited about a local vegetarian source of protein. I bought the Heirloom Black Turtle beans. She also had kidney/chili beans. If you like chili, she'll hook you up. She's got everything you'll need: onions, dried chili powder or whole dried chilis, kidney beans, frozen tomatoes, and garlic. And she grew it all herself. I ended up buying some beets, garlic, and a butternut squash from Berry Patch Farms.
Next, I moved on to Lee's Bees' table. Lee wasn't there, but his daughter was. She was very eager to educate people on the benefits (and deliciousness) of raw honey. And their honey is every bit as good as she says it is. I left their table with a half pint jar of awesomeness.
The last place I bought something from was Twin Mountain Milkhouse. They have some amazing cheese. I sampled some of their raw milk cheddar. I went home with a rather large hunk of their raw milk cheddar. I think next week I may bring home some of their gouda.
Those are just the people/places I patronized on my first trip. There are quite a few more to check out. If you're like me and have knives and tools that need sharpening, Johnson sharpening is there every week. There is also a lady, Westfarm Goats I do believe, who sells goat's milk soap and wool yarn. I'm drooling over the local yarn. But I told myself that it is pointless to buy craft supplies with a broken arm.
The Denver Urban Homesteading folks also sell chicken coops and feed. The building is huge, really. They plan on hosting classes this spring and summer on everything from raising your own chickens to composting with worms. Check their website for details and prices.
I was so happy months ago when I accidentally stumbled upon the Denver Urban Homesteading website. This seems like a place where people who are as passionate about local food and doing things the hard way as I am would congregate and be able to share their knowledge. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this place grows.
It is also so great to see how many people came to buy and sell things at a winter farmer's market. Eating locally doesn't have to be hard when you know the people who grow your food. Seems like a win-win situation to me!