A grocery store; organized, stickered, looking beautiful to entice your decision to buy, white hats and aprons weighing and packaging meat and fish. Employees busy stocking boxes of food and products on the shelves. This is where we get our food in the winter. Summer and fall we have the opportunity to enjoy local Farmers markets dotting Eagle County. Face to face and up close we get to meet the farmers and creators of the food laid out on a table before you.
The concept of meeting the farmer has become foreign to many people, especially if you grew up in the city. As a kid, my mother came from the farm so I had that treat many times. It really is a treat and an experience for children and adults. Children learn about where their food comes from, what actually is food (poptart is not) and how truly tasty home grown food tastes.
Sinking your teeth into an heirloom tomato without adding any salt, pepper or some spice will help you understand a tomato is a fruit. Heirlooms are the best, most flavorful and colorful tomato’s around. A home grown organic cucumber is a taste bud delight compared to those waxy, perfectly shaped cucumbers at the store, there really is no comparison. I am delighted, at least for a few months, tasting the pure goodness of organic vegetables. Now that fall is inching it’s way toward us we have the opportunity to eat Palisade peaches. Peaches grown just down I-70 in Palisades Colorado.
The summer starts off slow and steady with early crops, like rhubarb and romaine lettuce in June; next come the apricots, beets and broccoli in early July; but the real summer gems – peaches, sweet corn, cucumbers and tomatoes – that local chefs and market regulars eagerly anticipate, show up around mid-July.
The Vail Farmer’s Market and Art Show, which takes place Sundays from June 16-Sept. 22rd from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., has a tremendous variety of vendors and is the largest market in the county as well as the state. Along with produce, shoppers will find plenty of local painters, photographers, jewelry makers and more selling their crafts. Be sure to check out the Vail Jazz Foundation tent by Solaris where from noon to 3 p.m. free jazz concerts take place (vailjazz.org for the lineup). Visit www.vailfarmersmarket.com.
Insiders Tip: If you should go to the Vail Farmers Market on Sundays, pack a change of clothes and towels for your kids. Why? Inevitably, as your family walks by Gore Creek, the allure of the refreshing, flowing water with swirling patterns will beckon your children with it’s mesmerizing movement. The urge to touch the water and feel the sand beneath their toes will be too much. Although the air is warm, Gore Creek is extremely cold and wet clothes in the mountains will turn your kids into icicles.Another source of liquid attraction is the children’s fountain, up the stairs and within shouting distance from Gore Creek.
Warning! Fuzzywigs Candy Factory is right next the children’s fountain-be prepared to visit the store. The kids will hear the call of laughing and screaming and they will be drawn to the excitement. High, thin sculptures reach up from the ground of the fountain and beneath, spurts of water shoot sky high creating water art and taunting your kids to jump in and get squirted. Check here for a coupon
As an adult, I feel the attraction to the water, it’s as hard to resist as samples at the grocery store. Once again, the air will be warm but once the kids extract themselves the chill will set in and they will be miserable without a change of clothes and a towel.
The Minturn Market is the county’s oldest farmer’s market and has its own unique charm. The market runs from June 29-Sept. 14 and includes children’s face painting, a bouncy castle, live music and more than 115 market booths. Visit www.minturnmarket.org.
Insider’s Tip: Park in the parking lot by the forest service office, that’s to your right as you begin to head into Minturn. Here they do have shuttles which will take you to Minturn. It’s a cute little town but does not have an abundance of parking.
What’s even more fun for your family is to bring your bikes, park in that lot, cross over highway 6 to the bike path, which is along the river, ride up to the next road, which is a couple hundred yards, take left and ride the dirt road into Minturn. You come up into Minturn behind The Minturn Saloon and they do have a bike rack there to lock up bikes. The ride in, is under 2 miles one way. From there you can explore the market and then when you are done, you can ride to Little Beach Park which is about another 2 miles out.
If you’re one of those folks who scouts vegetables and other local foods like a bee to fragrant flowers, then the Edwards Farmers Market, which takes place Saturdays from June 15 through mid September, is the market for you. The focus at this market is on all things edible. Along with vendors selling Colorado lamb, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, honey and cheese, local bakeries sell freshly baked breads, pastries and pies. There’s plenty of breakfast and lunch fare (the market goes from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) as well, including crepes, gyros, tamales and more. Pets are welcome and parking is on site. Visit www.edwardsfarmersmarket.com.
The Eagle Farmer’s Market, the newest market of the group, takes place on Fridays from July 1 – Oct 5. Vendors include Osage Gardens, an organic farm in nearby New Castle. The market takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. in Eagle Town Park. Visit www.eaglefarmersmarket.org.