Golden

Eating fresh

Golden Farmers’ Market in full swing

Posted 6/26/17

Everything that Monroe Organic Farms, LLC brings to the Golden Farmers’ Market is picked the day before for it to be as fresh as possible for market-goers.

“The fresher it is, the better it tastes,” said Jacquie Monroe, owner of Monroe …

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Golden

Eating fresh

Golden Farmers’ Market in full swing

Posted

Everything that Monroe Organic Farms, LLC brings to the Golden Farmers’ Market is picked the day before for it to be as fresh as possible for market-goers.

“The fresher it is, the better it tastes,” said Jacquie Monroe, owner of Monroe Organic Farms, LLC. “There’s just nothing like eating something that’s straight from the farm.”

Monroe Organic Farms, which specializes in heirloom crops, started 81 years ago and is based in Kersey, which is in Weld County. The farm has been a vendor at the Golden Farmers’ Market for four years, but has been vending at Colorado Fresh Markets for at least 20 years, Monroe said.

Golden has a great market with a wonderful atmosphere and location, she said.

“The customers always make the vendors feel welcome,” Monroe said. “It’s nice to sit and chat with them.”

The Golden Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Farmers’ Market began 16 years ago and has been located in the parking lot next to the Golden Library since 2006. This is the second year for it to be managed by Colorado Fresh Markets.

“Over the years, our market has grown into an event which attracts thousands of people into Golden. It has become a community favorite and an attraction for visitors,” said Leslie Klane, CEO/president Golden Chamber of Commerce. “We will continue to present a market which meets a small town community feel, is valued by our community and brings value to our community.”

Including Golden, Chris and Michele Burke operate five Colorado Fresh Markets in the Denver metro area. The two started off as organic farmers in Boulder 27 years ago, then turned their focus to operations and founded Colorado Fresh Markets in 1997.

“The biggest focal point is fresh vegetables and fruit. The rest is kind of an adventure,” Chris Burke said. “It’s a real social thing — a fantastic way to meet and greet the people who are growing your food.”

The Golden Farmers’ Market opened for the 2017 season on June 3. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday until Oct. 7, except July 29 because of Buffalo Bill Days.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the market to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, previously known as food stamps, took place on June 10. Along with that, the market is participating in the SNAP incentive program, Double Up Food Bucks Colorado. Double Up allows SNAP recipients who shop at participating farmers’ markets to have their purchase matched with a voucher worth up to $20 per visit, providing them with more access to fresh, healthy food options, said Jenna Metzinger, the farmers’ market SNAP coordinator with Jefferson County Public Health.

“Hunger is a silent problem,” Metzinger said. “It affects more people and families than we realize.”

For example, she said, most SNAP recipients receive only $1.41 per meal or $4.23 per day in benefits, making it a challenge to have enough money to buy healthy food for an entire month.

“In my experience, most people want to eat healthy,” Metzinger said. “Golden has done a wonderful thing by creating a more welcoming, inclusive farmers’ market. Golden is directly battling food insecurity.”

The Golden Farmers’ Market attracts a good variety of shoppers, said Betsy Rich of Rich Brownies which is based in Evergreen. The mix includes everything from young families to senior citizens — and even good dogs, she added.

“This is our first year here, and we love it,” Rich said.

This year, Colorado School of Mines Athletics launched a new community outreach program with the Golden Chamber of Commerce, which provides student athletes a number of opportunities to volunteer in the community. Including the famers’ market and other community events, students will be helping out at the Golden Fine Arts Festival this August and the holiday parades this December.

So far, 13 students are signed up to volunteer at the Golden Farmers’ Market, but as students start returning to campus for the fall semester, more are likely to sign up, said Mines’ associate director of athletics Kate Burke (no relation to Chris and Michele Burke).

“Our new partnership with the Golden Chamber of Commerce is a wonderful opportunity for our student-athletes to get active and engaged in the community,” she said. “We have students that look to Golden for support throughout their college careers. The least we can do is give back to the community.”

Dallas Frisbie, 20, who will be entering her junior year studying materials and metallurgical engineering, said volunteering is one of the family values that her parents taught her growing up.

“It’s just a part of me,” Frisbie said. “I really enjoy reaching out and giving back.”

Golden’s famers’ market is bustling and fun, added Trevor Lockman, who is studying mechanical engineering and also entering his junior year at Mines next year.

“A community requires everyone to work hard together,” he said. “I like working behind the scenes to help make the farmers’ market successful.”

Currently, market goers can expect to find root crops, lettuces and other greens, peas, strawberries and cherries at the market, said Chris Burke. In July, apricots, beets, corn, tomatoes and cucumbers will be coming in, and in August, people will have a selection of melons, peaches and peppers.

People shopping for something in particular should keep an eye on the crop calendar, available on the Colorado Fresh Markets’ website, Chris Burke said.

“One key thing to know is that it’s still early in the local harvest season. Each time you visit the market, more and more produce will become available as the season goes on,” Chris Burke said. “That’s part of the excitement of the market.”

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