You can’t beat the taste of a perfectly ripe tomato that was just picked. No tennis balls here. Unless you have your own garden you can’t get that sensation – that is, unless you have a good farmers market nearby.
The Santa Fe Farmers Market is one of the best in the country. It’s crowded on a Saturday in spring. Except for a couple of weekends around Christmas and early January, the market is open year ‘round. May 1st they move outdoors and add a Tuesday morning market. Hours for both Saturday and Tuesday will be 7am to noon after May 1. The market stays bustling until late in the fall when it moves back indoors.
A central focus of the newly refurbished Railyard area, the farmers market offers shoppers locally grown and produced items sold by the folks who grow or make them. The market has strict regulations. Everything sold must be produced locally and sold directly by the producers. They only accept vendors from 15 northern New Mexico counties. Walking through the market on a Saturday morning you see lots of folks greeting vendors like old friends. There’s something very organic about being able to meet and get to know the people who grow your food.
A great benefit of buying locally grown produce, besides supporting local agriculture, is that everything is much fresher than in supermarkets. Heirloom plant varieties that don’t ship well can be bought here and used immediately while they are still flavorful. Meat, eggs and cheese can be bought directly from the source. Many of the farmers present are certified organic or pesticide and chemical-fertilizer free. One grower even offers produce grown with vegan fertilizer (no animal manures used). It is an exciting and healthy way to shop.
The Santa Fe Farmers Market was started in the 1960s with farmers selling their goods from the back of their pickups in a church parking lot. By 2000 the market had moved to the Railyard and was generating over $1.5 million in annual revenues. In 2002, the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute was formed with a mission to fund, build and manage the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. The market’s permanent digs, opened in September 2008, are adjacent to the railroad tracks just north of Paseo de Peralta. Building costs for its new home (they have an 80 year lease) were $4.5 million.
On Sundays the Market Pavilion is home to the New Mexico Artisan’s Market. Local artists, craftspeople and makers of artisanal foods sell their wares. The market’s standards encourage artists to use materials indigenous to Northern New Mexico as much as possible in keeping with the Farmer’s Market’s local philosophy. There is entertainment and refreshments are available. The Artisan’s Market is open from 10a.m. to 4p.m. Because it’s Sunday parking is free.
Check out the Santa Fe Farmers Market and take home fresh from the farm food. It’s a great way to eat!