The Bayfield Downtown Farmers Market held its last event Aug. 8, and organizers have no plans to launch another market during the 2020 season.
The farmers market, which started its third season in June, was created as part of Bayfield’s downtown revitalization effort. In past years, it offered customers a reliable source of fresh produce and a vibrant community. However this year, the market faltered when produce farmers didn’t come. Farmers informally attended the last Bayfield Block Party of the season Thursday, then planned to move to other markets, said Jackie Morlan, a board member for the market.
“We ended up not being consistent, and we didn’t have the fresh vegetables to be what the farmers market was intended to be,” Morlan said. She has returned deposits and cash on hand as part of the dissolution process.
The market lost two of its anchor farms this year, All Seasons Farm and Homegrown Farm. While eight or nine produce farmers expressed interest during an April organizational meeting, none of them ended up coming, Morlan said.
Instead, the market featured six or seven vendors, including produce from one farm, Pinyon Crest Farms, and other vendors who sold homemade jams, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, and baked goods.
“‘Where are the farmers?’ That’s what I would hear,” Morlan said. The late frosts and unpredictable growing season were hard on farmers, she added. “These farmers work so darn hard, they have to do what’s best for them.”
Without vendor consistency, however, customer attendance declined.
“The big thing is the two farmers that were there, and were a draw for customers, did not return this year,” said Elizabeth Bartley, owner of Healthy Pleasures Skin Care, who was in her second season as a vendor at the market this year. Without them, it was harder to keep attendance up. “I totally understand their business choices,” she added.
“(Losing the market) will definitely decrease the amount of money that I would have made,” she said. She will continue going to Durango Farmers Market and Blue Spruce Arts and Crafts at Vallecito.
“I met some really nice people and customers that returned weekly, so I’ll be sad that it’s coming to an end,” Bartley said.
The downtown market grew out of a 2015 community assessment by Downtown Colorado Inc., which suggested a co-operative market for health foods and fresh produce.
“Fresh produce will be available at other farmers markets, but unfortunately, it will be harder to get in Bayfield,” said Chris La May, Bayfield town manager. “At this point, it will probably take another person that’s willing to champion the cause to really organize the event.”
Still, Morlan felt like the market helped achieve some revitalization downtown. Mill Street gained one new restaurant in June, and two more will open soon, she said.
“When there are enough farmers in the Bayfield area who can support a market here, I’m sure somebody else will start it up,” Morlan said.
For the foreseeable future, she is bowing out. “Something like this should be done by younger people, I think.”