Perhaps they’d impart some friendly advice about which plants get along and which ones need to be kept away from each other. Maybe they’d request more water. Or less water. They might tell us when they’re tired and need to be given a long rest so that another garden can step up, as it were, to the plate. Perhaps they’d have ideas about how to drive away pests and attract friendlier creatures to their domain.
No, gardens don’t speak; but they do communicate. And their interpreter is the farmer.
Farmers in Montezuma County will congregate one more Saturday – Oct. 31 – before going dormant for the season. That means there is still time to hustle down to the Cortez Farmers Market and pick up enough food to satisfy a samarai.
So what did people buy this summer? What was the experience of the vendors in the 2015 growing season?
LickSkillet Farm in Lewis had a great first year that “exceeded our expectations,” says Nina Williams. Greg Vlaming commented on the relaxed pace and atmosphere of the Cortez market compared with markets in Durango and in Michigan where he has sold produce in the past.
Cecilia Berto of Berto Farms in Yellow Jacket noticed that people are coming to the market to shop as they would at a supermarket; that is, they’re buying in quantity.
Red Canyon Farm
Longtime market vendor Kim Lindgren of Red Canyon Farm experienced another good year at the farmers market, with tomatoes, all heirloom varieties, standing out as her best sellers. She remarked that customers are becoming more adventurous, willing to try a wider variety of foods, like her purple, brown, and orange tomatoes. She also said her grass-fed lamb seems more generally accepted. In the past, Lindgren noticed customers might show an interest in a specialty food, but they wouldn’t buy it. That appears to be changing.
Tomatoes, snow peas and sugar snap peas were among the best sellers at Barbara Lynch’s Magic Garden in McElmo Canyon. Additionally, she boasted of a bumper crop of potatoes that kept her in business until her tomatoes came in. Cauliflower, kohlrabi, and winter squash are still producing and will be at the market through October. The only crop that proved disappointing was the melons. You can thank the deer for that, says Barbara.
Wilson Centennial Farms
Ruth Wilson of Wilson Centennial Farms in Yellow Jacket, reported Esther’s bread (named for Ruth’s mother) and Ruth’s own green chile cheddar cheese and onion bread were consistent sell-outs.
Song Haven Farm
Thanks to the early spring rains, irrigation water has been virtually unlimited. Fresh greens that haven’t been beat up and steeped in diesel fumes while in transit from California are always a sure seller for Michelle Martz and Mark Mateus from Song Haven Farm in Cahone.
Garden of Weedin’
Garden of Weedin’ in Pleasant View, operated by native residents Lee Hill and Velma Hollan, also had a prosperous year. Everything sold, reports Lee Hill. Especially popular were their mortgage lifter beans. Family member Bessie White also was pleased with the sale of her dryland beans, Anasazi and pinto, which she grows in Pleasant View with the help of her son and grandson.
Dirt Rich Farm
Newcomers Emily and Gray Mason of Dirt Rich Farm said that it is appeared to be a healthy market with a lot of traffic. Eggs—quail, duck, and chicken—along with their salad greens were popular.
Battle Rock Mountain
Lu Nettleton across from Battle Rock Mountain sold out of his garlic, tomatoes, winter squash, and his melons.
Emily and Jordan Meyers of Summit Roots reported carrots and spinach to be their big sellers of the season
Market Manager Teresa Titone concluded the market season this way: “We’ve had more tourists than we’ve ever had, all the way from New Zeeland.” Two weeks ago, the chefs at Dunton Hot Springs visited the Cortez farmers market along with a film crew from Zagat magazine, a publication featuring worldwide restaurant reviews. Also, early in the season a local television came for several weeks and interviewed all the farmers. This kind of regional coverage which ran several times each week throughout the summer on local television stations, Titone believes, contributed significantly to all the tourist traffic that came through the market. But she’s quick to add that the heart and soul--the bread and butter--of the farmers market is the returning locals and curious newcomers who see it as a place to shop for healthy food.
So take some advice from a garden: Be kind to your farmer; know when to go fallow and when to produce; don’t tolerate pests; follow the laws of nature; be gentle underfoot; grow deep roots; reach for the sun. And try to give back more than you’ve been given.
The Parsnippet will also be going dormant for the season and hopes to be back next year. Until then—eat well, live well, and be well.