The arrival of spring also marks the return of the Boulder County Farmers Markets. Saturday markets start in Boulder and Longmont on April 1, 2023, and Boulder’s Wednesday markets open May 3.
Gearing up for the 36th season of the local farmers markets, Boulder Reporting Lab chatted with five new vendors joining this year’s lineup for the first time.
Boulder Valley Honey
Chris Borke, who grew up in Lafayette and went to CU Boulder, bought beehives as a hobby in 2013. He kept them in two 4-by-2-foot apiaries in the yard of a Boulder housing co-op, giving honey to residents in exchange. Later, he split those hives and added their bees to new hives in local yards, farms and open space citywide.
“Eventually it got to the point where I realized this was more than just a hobby,” said Borke, who started selling his honey in 2017 as Boulder Valley Honey. He contemplated joining the Boulder County Farmers Markets then but thought he didn’t have enough product yet.
Last year, Borke doubled his operation and plans to do the same again this year. Today, he has a dozen locations with hives — enough to sell at Boulder’s Saturday markets.
Boulder Valley Honey’s 5-ounce jars will sell there for $13.99, and one-pound jars will go for $21.99. The taster box contains 5-ounce jars of Orchard, Farmstead and Table Mountain honey, each with a different taste and consistency that captures a portion of Boulder’s flora.
“Bees are filters and condensers of all of the land around them,” Borke said. “Because a beehive will forage as far as seven miles away from their hive, they take this nectar from all these different plants,” before breaking it down and dehydrating it to make honey.
Borke’s orchard hive area at the base of Mount Sanitas neighbors a 100-year old apple orchard, producing light-tasting, thick honey. Farmstead honey, from Borke’s farm in East Boulder, surrounds birdsfoot trefoil, alfalfa and black locust trees that create crystal clear, liquidy honey. Table Mountain honey, collected close to the Table Mountain field site, hints at the nearby Russian sage and wildflowers.
Colorado Farmhouse Cheese
Over three decades, Tim Veldhuizen owned 11 different restaurants in Arvada, Greeley, Loveland and Buenos Aires, Argentina, before realizing he wanted to slow down. So in 2017, he moved back to Loveland, where he grew up, and started Colorado Farmhouse Cheese, which became Colorado’s only licensed sheep dairy in November 2022.
In addition to sheep, Veldhuizen raises Brown Swiss, Holstein and Dutch Belted cows, as well as goats, on his dairy farm in Loveland, processing their milk into cheese.
Colorado Farmhouse Cheese will sell at the Boulder market every Wednesday and Saturday, plus at the Longmont market on a handful of Saturdays.
“We want to be able to sell directly to the customers,” Veldhuizen said. Cheese Importers, a store in Longmont, currently sells Colorado Farmhouse Cheese. “We want to be able to provide as much [in-person] information as the customers want.”
At the markets, Colorado Farmhouse Cheese will sell ticino, Rocky Mountain alpine and gouda, all made from cows’ milk, at $22 a pound. In June, Veldhuizen will have garrotxa and alpine cheese made with goat milk for around $25 a pound. Also this summer, his sheep will produce gouda and manchego cheese, which will be sold at about $28 a pound. Everything will be packaged in around 7-ounce portions, and customers can order full and half wheels of cheese to pick up at the market the following week.
Grama Grass & Livestock
Beef vendor Grama Grass & Livestock, named after Colorado’s state grass, prioritizes the land when herding cattle.
Andy Breiter, owner of Grama Grass & Livestock, strategically moves his cattle throughout seven land parcels of city open space and private farmland in Boulder. This allows the animals to graze fresh food and for healthy grasses and pastures to regrow.
“Food is a big product of the land,” said Breiter, who worked on ranches before starting his business in early 2020. But “how do we make healthy land first? From there, we can have healthy food.”
Three years after starting his business— selling meat on his website and to Black Cat, Boulder Wine Merchant and Pinemelon — Breiter decided to join the farmers market. “These products are grown here in Boulder. They’re a part of this community,” he said of his cattle. “Let’s go meet the people of the community.”
On Wednesdays and Saturdays in Boulder, Grama Grass & Livestock will sell a variety of retail cuts, like ground beef, steaks and stew meat, priced slightly higher than similar cuts at Whole Foods. Customers can place larger bulk orders online and pick them up at the market.
Off Beet Farm
Emmy Bender and Kyle Stewart started Off Beet Farm, a two-acre vegetable farm in Gunbarrel, last fall. The co-owners met last summer while working on another Colorado farm. Neither wanted to start their own farm alone, so they teamed up to create “the gayest little farm in Boulder,” their tagline.
“We bonded over the summer, envisioning what a farm-centering queer identity would look like and decided to roll with it,” Bender said.
“I’m not sure if the general public necessarily realizes that a lot of queer people are farming,” Stewart said. “I think it’s important to show we’re everywhere doing all types of work.”
“The nice thing about organic farming is it is a space where queer people are very accepted and there are a lot of people living alternative lifestyles,” Bender added. Though Off Beet Farm isn’t certified organic yet — the costly process takes years — it uses organic practices, including no chemical pesticides, herbicides or non-organic fertilizers.
Off Beet Farm is joining the Boulder County Farmers Markets during its first growing season. Starting April 22, the farm will sell leafy greens, radishes and flowers in Boulder on Wednesdays and Longmont on Saturdays. Both Bender and Stewart wanted to sell at Boulder County Farmers Markets because they center community and local food.
“There’s something really special about the culture of being at the market with other vendors, seeing all the other beautiful food that’s being produced, grown and cooked in your community,” Bender said.
The co-owners are also looking forward to meeting customers, who are often grateful for their locally grown food. “It makes it a lot easier to do that whole week of hard work and hard labor,” Stewart said. “It makes it feel a lot more worth it.”
Longmont’s Asian American eatery Rising Tiger started in 2020 as Tiger & Wife, a brunch delivery service. When pandemic dine-in restrictions ended, owner Devin Keopraphay rebranded to Rising Tiger, a brunch pop-up and catering brand.
Rising Tiger operates out of coworking space Times Collaborative, at least until Keopraphay can find a brick-and-mortar location. The eatery’s food booth will be at Longmont’s Saturday farmers market. The menu will look different from Keopraphay’s Tiger & Wife days.
“Instead of being American Asian, we’re now more Asian American,” Keopraphay said. Whereas Tiger & Wife sold croissants, black sesame cookies and miso doughnuts, Rising Tiger offers what Keopraphay grew up eating as a first-generation Laotian American. The farmers market menu, for instance, includes gluten-free and vegan Taiyaki waffles.
“Tai means snapper in Japanese and yaki means grill. So it’s a fish-shaped waffle,” Keopraphay said. It’s available in two flavors: kinako (toasted soybean flour) with maple and powdered sugar, plus one with a custard filling.
Keopraphay’s favorite menu item is the breakfast sandwich. It consists of either smoked tofu, bacon or sausage with two marbled eggs and scallions on two toasted rice cakes, smeared with chili-garlic crisp. Keopraphay plans to add seasonal ingredients and new menu items as the market season continues.