IN the 10 years that Mandy Pittman has been organizing the Alamosa Farmers’ Market she’s seen the natural progression that reflects the connected and intentional network of local farmers growing and bringing their crops and food items to sell.
“It’s becoming more of a food market than it had been when we started. And that’s nothing I’ve done, that’s the nature of the world that we’re living in,” Pittman said in preparation for this season’s markets.
“People are more interested in, ‘Where’s my food coming from, how’s it getting to me, who’s growing it, what are they doing to it?,” she said. “And I think as that increases, our vendors are deciding ‘You know what, I’m going to start farming, I’m going to start baking bread, I’m going to start making my food chain shorter.’”
This season’s Alamosa Farmers’ Market opens Saturday, July 2, at Sixth Street and State Avenue across from the Visit Alamosa Depot and Colorado Welcome Center. It’s a 15-week market held every Saturday with the final date on Oct. 8.
Pittman expects up to 45 vendors on the different Saturdays, up from a summer ago when vendor spacing created to recognize the COVID pandemic limited the number of vendors to 35.
A feature of the Alamosa Farmers’ Market that Pittman emphasizes is the acceptance of SNAP and food assistance benefits. Customers can cover their purchases of fresh produce at the farmers market with a Quest card or SNAP dollars.
In setting up the farmers market Pittman sees her job as renting spots to as many local food growers and artisans as she can. “What’s the most fun to me is getting to know these local businesses and find out ‘What does it take for you to get here and what do you do during the rest of the year?’”
“To learn about how they pour themselves into the food that they’re growing or making or raising, what they sacrifice for their animals, it’s a really amazing collection of stories among all of our vendors because they all come different ways to the market.”
Other Valley farmers markets are in Del Norte and Monte Vista. Mercado Del Norte is every Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 2 through Sept. 1 on Spruce Street. The Monte Vista Farmers Market begins July 8 through Sept. 16 and is on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We’re all in the same business,” Pittman said of the Valley’s farmers markets. “We’re all working toward the same goal. We want to make local foods easy to access. We want to make our communities healthier, and we want to support our local farmers.”