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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Fresh flowers are in abundance at the Boulder Farmers Market
Fresh flowers are in abundance at the Boulder Farmers Market Photo: Victoria Shearer

Boulder Farmers Market

Held biweekly, the Boulder Farmers Market sells fresh produce to thousands of residents, who may also visit the tea house, a gift from Boulder's sister city in Central Asia, Dushanbe. Together these two enterprises provide a multi-cultural setting in which the diverse population may mingle. Every Saturday and Wednesday morning from May through October, this open-air market is vibrant with color, a place where area residents come to shop, browse and meet their friends and neighbors.

In the autumn of 1986, a small group of local farmers decided to organize a formal farmers market to be located in downtown Boulder, and approached the City of Boulder with their idea. The city agreed to provide staff support, secretarial services, meeting spaces, appropriate permits and a site for the market. Boulder's Central Park, permanent, highly visible, attractive, accessible and shaded, was chosen as the ideal site. The successful project reflects the efforts of both those in the private and public sectors. In March 1987, the Boulder County Farmers Market became a Colorado non-profit corporation. Any profits over and above those necessary to maintain the market are made available for nonprofit agricultural and community projects, such as 4H, the WIC Nutritional Program, the County Fair, and Cultival, an at-risk teenage gardening project.

Not everyone can sell at the farmers market; its primary purpose is to provide a direct marketing outlet for local growers. Since small growers cannot compete with larger, highly capitalized wholesale producers, the market provides them with profitable retail opportunities. The market provides an abundance and large variety of produce, some "heirloom" varieties not available in local supermarkets, and some grown organically without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Workshops are held so interested market-goers can learn about the products and get advice. People love the idea of buying produce directly from the field, and, best of all, they can taste the difference! Along with seasonal fruits and vegetables, flowers and crafts are also for sale. Sales totaled $900,000 in 1999.

The market has grown in other ways as well. Select food vendors sell at the market, and account for nearly 40% of its budget. Many charitable organizations set up booths to recruit for their cause; special children's events are scheduled throughout the year. A highlight of the season, the Chef's Event features the cuisine of world-famous chefs.

Project documentation includes four pages of text, 8 x 10 color photographs, snapshots, a list of 1999 farmers and food vendors, and newspaper articles.

Originally submitted by: Mark Udall, Representative (2nd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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