Westword Article: Boulder County Farmers’ Market Has Deep Roots…and High Hopes
One of the bright sides of this current situation is that it’s helping illuminate the role of a good local food system. It’s a huge effort, changing from a traditional farmers’ market model to a food hub model in a few weeks. There’s a lot we don’t know and a lot we’re learning very quickly. I expect the process to be challenging but also rewarding because it’ll feel so good to be distributing food again.
There’s always a sense of festivity to the opening day of the Boulder County Farmers Market in Boulder, an opening that was originally scheduled for a recent weekend—the organization also operates two more markets in Boulder County and Denver’s Union Station market, which was scheduled for a May opening. People chat with their favorite farmers, catching up on what’s been happening over the winter; returning customers recognize and greet each other. Not that there’s a whole lot of food to savor. The peaches and plums, corn and tomatoes come later in the year; in early spring you won’t find much more than overwintered onions, carrots and potatoes—not even plant starts just yet, though almost everyone’s impatient to get back to the garden.
But this is a celebration that goes deeper than what’s available for the table. It’s a joyous recogition of the coming of spring, the green shoots that persist in pushing up through the dark earth, the lengthening days, the bond between farmers and the communities they feed. The market serves as a kind of church for those who believe food is far more than the collections of calories, carbs, fats, things you should avoid and things to choke down for your own good that some nutritionists insist on reducing edibles to. Food is comfort, nourishment and communion. Sharing food, many anthropologists believe, is at the heart of civilization, which began when the first hominids gathered around fires to eat together and swap stories—stories from which myth, religion, and the entire twisting complex narrative of humanity’s time on earth arose.
But this year there will be no April opening, and no one is exactly sure when the weekly markets can resume. Executive director Brian Coppom originally planned for an opening May 2, but that has come to look too optimistic. “We’re updating,” he says. “At this point I don’t know when we can open the markets and know that they’re safe for customers, vendors and staff.”
The news is distressing to customers, around 6,000 of whom usually flock to opening day in Boulder, while some 1,300 attend in Denver. But Coppom has plans in place…