Farmers markets are not just a spring and summer activity in Montezuma County.
Saturday marked the second weekend of the winter farmers market at the Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery in Dolores. Farmers and craft makers from all over the county came to sell their wares in the indoor space, which was crowded with shoppers by noon. The farmers market will be held every Saturday from now through March.
This is the fourth year Vic and Gail Vanik, owners of Four Seasons, have held the winter market. Vic Vanik said it’s grown bigger every year, to the point where he now has a waiting list of local vendors who want to participate, and this year some of them will be setting up booths outside the greenhouse. The market only lasts three hours once a week, but it typically gets plenty of business from county residents and even out-of-county visitors.
“I think we’re just getting to the point where they’re aware of what they eat and where it comes from,” Vanik said. “Locally grown (food) is huge.”
He pointed out that, just because not as many crops grow in the winter, that doesn’t mean demand for fresh food goes down.
Maybeth Gentry, owner of Eagle Tree Farm in Dolores, is one local grower who has been coming to the Four Seasons market since it first started. She said she often makes more money at the winter market than at the summer ones, because there’s less competition from other local producers.
“I try to grow more in the winter, or what we call ‘shoulder season,’ so spring and fall planting, so that I can have items that the home gardener wouldn’t grow,” she said. “When the supply goes down, price goes up.”
Gentry said she also loves the community between the vendors who come for the winter market every year. Her booth, where she sold a wide variety of vegetables like carrots, kale, cucumbers and garlic, was busy all morning on Saturday.
Not everyone at the market was there to sell food, though. Several booths advertised local woodworking, jewelry and other crafts. A few local musicians also provided live entertainment, and a would-be restaurateur named Chris Snyder gave out free samples of homemade soup.
Keith Kessler and Anna Marie Osuna, who collaborate on a crafting business called Red Tail Creations, are participating in the market for the first time this year. On Saturday, they sold goods ranging from homemade wool vests and flour-sack aprons to granola and dried fruit. They both said they have enjoyed the winter market so far.
“I think it’s tremendous,” Kessler said. “There are a lot of great people here.”
He mentioned that he was also impressed with the downtown Cortez farmers market, which he and Osuna participated in earlier this year. Part of their goal in appearing at Four Seasons on Saturday was to advertise their new Red Tail Creations store, which is set to open in Dolores on Dec. 1.
Vanik, who also sells his own greenhouse produce at the market, said he plans to hold it every weekend this year, even on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve.
“We won’t make as much money on those days, but people will still come,” he said.