Denver farmers’ markets are again and one favourite is inquisitive about running with smaller farms

Feel that? It’s getting warm in Denver — and that means farmers’ market season is on the horizon.

Come May, Denverites will be able to get their fill of fresh produce, sample from local food trucks, find new tchotchkes from craft vendors and, in some places, even listen to some live music.

One market that’ll be returning this year is the City Park Farmers Market, run by Peter and Margo Wanberg.

The Wanbergs took over the market last year, after the previous management company dropped the market in 2020. Now in their second year, Peter Wanberg said, marketgoers are in for more fresh and local produce from farmers big and small.

“When the market dropped, we jumped on it,” Wanberg said. “It’s a great area to have a farmers’ market. It’s surrounded by neighborhoods that appreciate local foods and local products. I think farmers’ markets in Denver have strayed away from being food focused. You see a lot of craft goods and art…and that’s fine but we thought there was a better way to honor farmers and food producers… I think there’s a need for farmers’ markets around Denver to flip the paradigm and make farmers and food producers the most important part of the market.”

Wanberg said you can see that emphasis on farmers and food producers through the market’s increased vendor list. Last year, the market had 70 vendors and worked with 12 farms. This year, the market is working with 16 farms and there’ll be 90 vendors. Wanberg said the majority of the stalls will be food-based.

Wanberg said he and Margo created a small farm program that provides reduced rates for farms that are less than five years old or have less than five acres of land.

One of those farms is Switch Gears Farm in Longmont run by Brett Matson and Vanita Patel.

Switch Gears opened in December 2020 and had their first year of harvest last year. The farm is about an acre and half in size and grows a variety of produce, like hot peppers, tomatoes, garlic, Brussels sprouts and broccoli rabe.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Wanbergs asked Matson and Patel to work with them last year. Initially, the couple said no due to production concerns.

“We didn’t know what we could handle, Matson said. “We were still trying to figure out our business model. We were super nervous about what we could bring and we didn’t want to over promise.”

Patel added, “In June we realized we were growing a lot. Our production boomed to maintain two markets. We did our math and we reached out and asked if they were still interested and we joined them in July.”

Matson works on the growing side and Patel handles the business side. They both agreed that they’re eager to show off their produce and also some new hybrids come opening market day.

Besides working with a smaller farmer, Wanberg said the market is accepting Double Up Food Bucks this year, which allows people on WIC and SNAP to double their produce purchases. So, if they have $20 worth of SNAP, they can spend $40.

Customers paruse rooted herbs at the Fresh Herb Company tent inside the Union Station farmers market.  (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) union station;  food;  farmers market;  Denver;  denverite;  Colorado;  kevinjbeaty

“Farmers’ markets can feel inaccessible because the price points are higher because it’s all small businesses,” Wanberg said. “Using Double Up Food Bucks gives people more access to higher quality produce and that’s what we’re hoping for this year. Just broadening access to the market and getting more people to participate.”

City Park Farmers’ Market will run on Saturdays from from 8 am to 1 pm starting May 14 until October 29. It’s located at 2551 E. Colfax Avenue across from East High School.

Here are some other markets that are returning this summer. If we missed any in Denver, send us an email at tips@denverite.com

Saturday’s

Union Station Farmers’ Market: June 4th – early September from 9 am – 1 pm Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop Street.

Cherry Creek Fresh Market: May 7 – November 5 from 9 am to 2 pm Cherry Creek Shopping Center, 1st Ave. and University Boulevard

University Hills Farmers Market: May 14 – October 29 from 9 am to 1 pm University Hills Plaza, 2500 S. Colorado Boulevard

sundays

Central Park Farmers Market: June 5 – October 9 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm Founders Green (29th & Roslyn)

Highland Square Farmers Market: May 22 – October 16 from 9 am to 1 pm 32nd Ave. & Lowell Blvd.

People + Produce at Belleview Station: June 5 – October 2 from 9 am to 1 pm 4910 S. Newport St.

South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market: May 1 – November 13 from 9 am to 1 pm 1400 & 1500 block of Old South Pearl St., between Florida Ave and Iowa Ave.

wednesdays

Cherry Creek Fresh Market: June 15 – September 28 from 9 am to 1 pm Cherry Creek Shopping Center, 1st Ave. and University Boulevard

Sprout City Farm Stand: August 10 – October 26 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm Denver Green School, 6700 E. Virginia Ave.

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