During the summer, Colorado fruits, vegetables, and other local products can be found at farmers’ markets, as well as roadside stands, and “u-picks.” Nearly 100 Colorado farmers’ markets now exist, and sales go beyond just produce. Agricultural produce and services, also known as agribusiness, accounts for nearly $40 billion towards Colorado’s economy each year. Considering nearly half of the land in the state is farmland or ranches, this may not be so surprising!
Be a Savvy Farmers’ Market Shopper
Many markets sell applesauce, cheeses, granola, tamales, honey, bread, pasta, flowers, and you name it! Some signature Colorado crops include: Palisade peaches, Olathe sweet corn, Rocky Ford watermelons and cantaloupes, and Pueblo chile peppers. Many potato varieties are also grown in the San Luis Valley including Yukon Gold, russet, fingerling, all-blue, mountain rose, and purple majesty.
Plan your next farmers’ market trip with the following tips in mind:
- Plan ahead with recipes based on what’s in season. Think about how much you will need and use for the week to avoid over purchasing and waste.
- Shop early in the day for the best selection of produce. However, later in the day (or in bad weather) you may find the best deals.
- Bring cash and small bills. Bring your own bag as well, and a cooler if you’re planning on buying perishables or frozen goods.
- Scan the market and visit all vendors before purchasing items. Shop around for the best value, as many vendors sell the same products.
- Ask where the produce comes from to ensure that it was Colorado-grown.
- Ask vendors how their products are grown. Some vendors may use organic practices, but don’t get organic certification to avoid the fees.
- Try something new each week! Many farmers’ markets offer unique Colorado produce. Ask vendors about the best way to prepare a food if you are unsure.
Buy Extra to Preserve for Winter
Not only are fruits and vegetables delicious when they’re fresh, but they’re also delicious outside of the growing season as salsas, relishes, pickles, jams and jellies! Learn how to safely preserve foods at your home’s elevation using CSU Extension’s new Preserve Smart website or app!
Use Preserve Smart to:
- Determine ‘on the go’ the ingredients and equipment needed for safe home food preservation.
- Follow links provided to find out when fresh fruits and vegetables are in season near you.
- Find the exact elevation of your kitchen! This is important to ensure safe processing times, pressure requirements, and blanching times.
- Explore and use tested food preservation recipes with instructions for your elevation.
- Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for timely preservation tips and updates!
- For information on farmers’ markets in your area and for ideas on how to use local products, visit www.coloradoproud.org. Here you can find a farmers’ market directory, recipes, crop calendars, and many other farmers’ market resources.
- Use the Colorado Farm Fresh Directory for detailed descriptions of Colorado farmers’ markets, wineries, farms, and ranches all over our state. The directory also provides a list of which locations accept SNAP benefits.
- Use the Colorado Produce Calendar to see what produce is in season monthly in Colorado. Buying produce in season has a wealth of benefits. Not only is it often more affordable, but it can also be more nutritious and delicious than produce purchased out of season.
Thanks to CSU alumna Rakia Ranney, RD, for her assistance writing this post.