That second cup of coffee beckons and snap, the sun is high in the sky and the market is folding up its umbrellas and heading home. Fortunately, there is an alternative for morning-challenged food shoppers: the Evening Market in Cortez is open for business the first Tuesday of the month at Centennial Park on Main Street from 4-7 p.m.
A scaled-down version of the Saturday market, the Evening Market is small and relaxed, and features an eclectic assortment of craft and food booths. Market Manager Gretchen Groenke strives to create a healthy family-friendly community space where residents feel welcomed to shop leisurely or just to come and relax and enjoy the live music. The kids can enjoy storytime provided by Laura McHenry from the Cortez Library.
But there is also an undercurrent of philanthropy at the Evening Market. Funded by local civic organizations, including the 4 Corners Farmers and Ranchers Coalition, the City of Cortez, and the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association, the Evening Market receives additional grant funding from the Ballantine Family Fund. That money is divided among four local food banks and soup kitchens: Hope’s Kitchen, Grace’s Kitchen, the Good Samaritan Center, and the Feed the Families program at the Foursquare Gospel church. As Groenke explains: “Everybody wins. The farmers win because they have more opportunity to sell their products. The local food banks win because the food is high in nutritional value. And the community wins because there’s more money going back into the local food economy.”
Strolling through the market, familiar farmers market faces pop up, such as Cecilia Berto of Berto Farms. She is selling her popular farm raised pork, ground sage sausage, green chile sausage, chorizo, appetizer-sized spareribs, mild Italian brats, hickory smoked bacon, liver, even pork fat, all USDA inspected. Be advised: if you want to nab her green chile brats before they sell out, get there early.
Mick’s Coffee is there with Fahrenheit Coffee choices like Sumatra, Costa Rican, and Guatemalan, available by the cup or by the bag. Reliably delicious, Fahrenheit coffee is roasted in Mancos and has earned a well-deserved following among local coffee drinkers.
LeeAnn Hill of Laughing Wolf Farm has beans, mixed greens, apricots, romaine lettuce, peas, leeks, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes and dill. She is working with Kathryn Fulton of Kestrel Farm in Mancos to fulfill their commitment for 20 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares to local residents who purchased 10 weeks’ worth of weekly produce from their farms.
Newer faces include Sadie, a college intern who is running the produce stand from the Old Fort Lewis College education garden in Hesperus. Through the CSU extension program at the Old Fort, young interns participate in a beginning farmers program and sell all their produce as a cooperative.
For the sweet tooth, there are enough delectables to threaten any dietary resolution. Local craftswoman Kirma offers rustic Bavarian crust peach pies and cherry pies, all-butter cookies, chocolate chip raisin and strawberry sandwiches.
Anna Marie of Open Range Baked Goods sells her birdseed bread made from Cortez Milling flour and a healthy dose of sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds. Free samples of her blueberry pound cake attest to the high quality of her baked goods. She also makes a fun assortment of products from Bluebird and Red Rose flour bags. Durable, functional and playful--who wouldn’t want an apron sporting the Cortez Bluebird logo?
Buckets of long-legged happy sunflowers can be found at Green Table Farm out of Mancos along with black and white radishes, lettuce, arugula, rainbow chard, beets, turnips, shell peas, new potatoes, and zucchini. All of Tyler Hoyt’s produce is organic and grown using sustainable farming practices like pest control through crop rotation, soil enhancement with compost rather than chemicals, and manure from free-range organically-fed animals. Organic sustainable practices are a source of well-deserved pride among all the growers.
Healthy and natural practices are not limited to the food we eat. Consider what we slather on our skin. Kathy Candelaria of HD Naturals in Cortez has an impressive display of her homemade body care products. She offers soaps, perfume oil rollers, cold creams, shampoo and conditioners, thick body butter in delicious combinations of sweet-smelling aromas like bergamot and citrus, rose and ylang ylang, lavender and chamomile, and apple cobbler, to name a few. Her almond oil lotions are scented with lilac, peach, apple, ginger spice, honeysuckle, spicy orange. She even offers natural deodorants. Her pre-made Christmas bags will be available in time for the next market.
Summertime and the living is easy. Why not grill your dinner using Berto Farm’s spareribs? Try marinating them before you cook them. Cecilia Berto prefers a dry rub and varies the rub depending on the meal. Her recommendation: “Explore your spice cabinet.” Ideas for a dry rub may include garlic, cracked pepper, dry mustard, ginger, spices and/or fresh herbs. Berto recommends a drizzle of honey too before wrapping the prepared ribs in foil and placing on the top rack of the grill.
If you prefer a wet, saucier type of marinade, remember this simple axiom: acids tenderize, oils moisturize. Combine an acid like vinegar, citrus juice, or wine, with the oil. Add your own unique blend of spices and herbs, perhaps a little sweetener like honey or agave to add a crusty glaze, and throw the ribs on the grill, basting frequently. Pair the meat with a salad of mixed greens from the market, add a loaf of Anna Marie’s birdseed bread, and sit back and enjoy a 100% locally-sourced summertime meal.
There are two more Evening Markets remaining: Tuesdays Sept. 6 and Oct. 4 from 4-7 p.m. For more information, go to their Facebook page, or to find out how to become a vendor, contact Gretchen at firstname.lastname@example.org.