The Farmers’ Market: Bringing people together over fresh greens

by  Mikaela Antonelli 
A parking lot in Fort Collins isn’t exactly where most people would think to find fresh produce and homemade goods, but that is exactly where you can find local goods on weekend mornings. This unlikely oasis goes by a more common name: the farmers’ market. Each weekend, vendors and consumers alike ascend upon various farmers’ markets locations around the Fort Collins area to sell and purchase local goods.
“Clean eating” and “organic” have been buzzwords for the last few years. The fact that each farmer grows their produce themselves without harmful toxins makes local farmers’ markets very appealing. Many people are very dedicated to this weekend morning ritual of strolling through rows of fresh food. Ruth Smith, a Fort Collins resident, has been shopping at farmers’ markets for about 10 years. Smith says that she comes to the farmers’ markets for “the fresh food and the sense of community. It feels good to help support the local farms.”
Ryan Wiens, Fort Collins resident and owner of Westbridge Farms, started his farm three years ago and has found success in selling at farmer’s markets in Fort Collins. “It is definitely a risky business,” said Wiens. “If you have a rainy day and no one comes by, you could be left with a lot of unsold greens.” Wiens does his part to help out when this happens by donating to food banks around town. Wiens grows mostly micro greens, which are not as popular in the mainstream for consuming, but he has made it his mission to better educate the public on the health benefits of micro greens. Going to farmer’s markets helps him get the word out.
There is a strong sense of community at the farmers’ market. Every farmer is dedicated to growing quality products for their consumers, and getting to interact with their customers makes the hard labor worthwhile. Kirk Webber, co-owner of Becca’s Gourmet, has been coming to the farmers’ market for two years to sell his gluten free goodies. “I like it because it gives us a chance to see our customer’s reactions in person,” said Webber.
Wiens also has found a great sense of community in farmers’ markets. “The people are awesome,” said Weins. “I have had a lot of great conversations here.” With people sitting and having long conversations and vendors smiling and inviting you to try their goods, you get the sense of community. In Fort Collins, you never have to look far for great people and clean food.
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