Boulder County Farmers Markets has launched sales of this season’s Winter Market Share. Started last year, Boulderites now have an option for extending their farmers market experience into the winter.
The Winter Market Share program is similar to a CSA, where participants commit to several weeks of fresh local food. But unlike a CSA, the program offers a mix of local food from a variety of producers each week, rather than just one farm. According to the Farmers Markets’ website, the Winter Market Share will give you eight weeks of groceries suitable for two to three people. And those who buy in can also count support for local agriculture as part of their investment.
“Farmers have to pay their bills year-round,” said Mackenzie Sehlke, executive director of Boulder County Farmers Markets. “And for me, a resilient food system is a local and regional food system.”
The Wednesday farmers market in Boulder already ended, and the Saturday markets in both Boulder and Longmont end on Nov. 18. But by buying before Nov. 11, Boulderites can secure a source of local produce through the end of January for $400, or $50 a week. After that, it’s $420 until Nov. 20, when the share closes to new participants.
“If everybody shifted $5 of their budget towards local food it would make a huge difference for the viability of local farmers,” Sehlke said. “Our farmers are doing so much in increasingly difficult circumstances to feed our community.”
From bacterial outbreaks in meatpacking plants to disruptive events like the Texas ice storm that delayed Trader Joe’s deliveries to Boulder, many have witnessed the problems with relying entirely on food from far away. Sehlke said when you buy through the farmers markets, you not only have direct interactions with the producers, but you also deal with people who live and grow in your environment.
“Farmers who have been growing in this community for a long time have food that’s climate adapted,” she said. “There’s all sorts of environmental benefits to that.”
When purchasing the Winter Market Share, there’s an option to identify as a vegetarian or a meat lover. You might get some tempeh from Project Umami — a Boulder-based, soy-free tempeh producer — or some beef from Bucker Family Ranch. And you’ll definitely want some Silver Canyon Coffee.
“It’s a surprise every week,” said Frankie Ryder, marketing and communications manager for Boulder County Farmers Markets. “I think that’s one thing our customers really enjoyed. You don’t always know what’s going to come in your box. So it’s kind of a challenge of, How can I make this into a delicious meal for myself and my family?”
Hopefully you know how to cook with winter squash, as Ryder said there’s a bounty of it this year. That includes acorn, delicata, butternut, spaghetti and kabocha varieties.
There’s also the chance you’ll get something you’d never buy yourself and end up loving it. “We’re looking to do something exciting for your culinary adventures,” Ryder said, “with the underlying mission being supporting our local food producers.”
Starting on Nov. 29 and ending on Jan. 31, pickups in Boulder will be available at the Boulder Public Library on Arapahoe Avenue each Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be no pickup on Dec. 20 or 27 due to the holidays.
In Lafayette, pickups will be on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting on Nov. 30 and running until Feb 1. Available at the intersection of East Simpson Street and Michigan Avenue, just like in Boulder, the holidays will prevent pickups on Dec. 21 and 28.
Longmont is a little more complicated. From Dec. 3 through Dec. 17, pickups will be on Sunday at the Farmers Market Building on Lefthand Circle. Then after a two-week break for the holidays, pickups switch to Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the same place, running until Feb. 1.
“It’s not just cute, or a tourist activity,” Sehlke said of buying local food. “It’s an act of community building.”