I really do get why farmers markets are so popular, especially good ones like the Boulder County Farmers Markets.
I like a good farmers market, but long before they became popular you went to roadside farm stands operated by individual farmers. Many of Boulder’s market growers also maintain a roadside stand at the farm during the season.
What farm stands lack in prepared food options, beer, live music, convenience and crowds, they make up for in quirkiness, personal contact with the growers and a different selection of produce and food items available anywhere else.
There is nothing like the full flavor of veggies harvested that morning. It’s about as “local” as food can get.
All around the edges of Boulder and Longmont there are dozens of small roadside agricultural attractions if you know where to find them.
Lately, I’ve visited some of the smaller, occasional and far-flung produce emporia. Each is unique and easy to miss with small signs on dusty rural byways.
You’ll find more than greens and veggies, with many offering baked goods, honey, jam, eggs, grains, meats and prepared foods. Try taking a summer Saturday and making the rounds of the stands. Even when they all sell tomatoes, they specialize in different heirloom varieties.
The prime farm stand day around Boulder is Saturday, roughly 8 a.m. to maybe 2 p.m., but there are stands open every day of the week through the end of September. Always bring cash.
Making the rounds of the farm stands means you get first shot at the series of crops from rhubarb to butternut squash. Check on social media to find out what crops each is harvesting and when they are open.
Zwecks Fresh Vegetables and Flowers: Tom and Connie Zweck have had a roadside stand selling their organic vegetables since 1974. They were there when a handful of local growers held the first Boulder Farmers Market on the Boulder County Courthouse lawn in the mid-1980s. Connie was arranging the green beans, Costata Romanesco summer squash, lettuce and lots of flowers when I stopped by. “We pick everything we sell the same day,” Zweck says, and adds some advice: “At farm stands, people should be flexible. See what the farmer has that day and decide how to cook it.” The Zwecks may retire their farm stand after this summer. 10901 Airport Road, Longmont, zwecksfresh.com
Growing Gardens: Growing Gardens is a nonprofit that fosters sustainable urban agriculture through classes and programs and camps for kids. Almost every Wednesday it operates a farm stand packed with produce, which also spotlights local food products including meats from SkyPilot Farm. 1630 Hawthorn Drive, Boulder,
Sunbeam Farm: Best known as a dependable source of healthy plant starts in the spring, Sunbeam also maintains an honor system stand offering lots of greens and veggies and eggs all year round. 1005 Cherryvale Road, Boulder, sunbeamfarm.com
Naughty Goat Farm Stand: A group of farmers gets together at this single location each Saturday with vegetables including super-sweet beets, plus baked goods like stone fruit galettes, chicken and duck eggs, and fresh herbs and flowers. The goats are just owner Mary Ingram’s pets. 63rd Street north of Valmont Road,
Grandma’s Farm Produce: This self-serve shack on an old family farm is packed with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, Olathe sweet corn and Palisade peaches as well as beef, bread and jam. 11596 County Road, Longmont (near Union Reservoir),
P.S.: There is a quirky honor-system cart at the corner of Willow Creek Drive and Arapahoe east of 95th Street (next to a lavender field) selling everything from eggs and honey to kombucha.
Many larger, longstanding locations are well known to foodies and located on major roads. Some are famous for a specific crop, like Munson Farms for its sweet corn. If you haven’t visited many farm stands, start with these favorites as we swing into the tomato, sweet corn, chile pepper and apple seasons.
Munson Farms, 7355 Valmont Road, Boulder, munsonfarms.com
Cure Farm, 7450 Valmont Road, Boulder, cureorganicfarm.com
Ollin Farms, 8627 N. 95th St., Longmont, ollinfarms.com
Black Cat Farm, 4975 Jay Road, Boulder,
Ya Ya Farm and Orchard, 6914 Ute Highway,
Isabelle Farm: 1640 Baseline Road, Lafayette,
The stands mentioned are just a sampling of the dozens of places out there. For detailed listings of Colorado’s agricultural attractions, check out:
LOCAL FOOD NEWS
Boulder-based Western Slope winery Bookcliff Vineyards reports that virtually all of their red varietal grapes suffered damage from a freeze last fall and they don’t expect to harvest any red grapes later this year. … Coming soon: Sherry’s Soda Shoppe, a traditional ice cream shop, at 262 College Ave. … Longmont-based Journey Culinary is offering in-person and online cooking classes which include music, culture and language as well as a meal. Upcoming classes range from Peruvian Cuisine, Flavors of France and Nutritional Power Foods to Una Notte in Italia and International Classic Sauces, journeyculinary.com
Culinary Festivals Are Back
Plan ahead for: Taste of the Middle East, Aug. 14, Denver; Community Food Share farm-to-fork dinner, Aug. 21, Whimsy Farm, Boulder; Watermelon Day, 144th Arkansas Valley Fair, Aug. 21, Rocky Ford; Eagle Mushroom & Wild Food Festival, Eagle, Aug. 27-29; Colorado Mountain Winefest, Sept. 18–19; Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival, Sept. 24-26.
Words to Chew On
“Americans can eat garbage, provided you sprinkle it liberally with ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment which destroys the original flavor of the dish.” —Novelist Henry Miller
John Lehndorff is the Boulder Weekly’s Food Editor. Comments and local food news to: Nibbles@boulderweekly.com