Sometimes I’m just not up for the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning – either it’s too hot (I start to wilt when it’s over 82 degrees without a breeze), I don’t feel like being in a crowd, or I was incredibly lazy and didn’t get going until early afternoon. But never fear – there are lots of farm stands around the area where you can stock up on a variety of vegetables for the week. Many farm stands are open seven days a week, from morning to early evening, so you can stop by on the way home from work, or head out on the weekend.

Peaches, Peppers, Potatoes, Eggplant and Green Beans at Munson Farms

Overall, I think my favorite farm stand is the one at Munson Farms. Located at 75th and Valmont, there is ample parking, a great selection of produce, reasonable prices, and always friendly service. I had the opportunity to talk to Mike Munson the last time I was there, and got the chance to ask a few questions about the farm. It really does make you feel connected to the area when you meet the people who grow your food.

Tomatoes Galore! – Munson Farms

Munson Farms specializes in sweet corn in the summer, and squash in the fall. But you can also pick up some tomatoes and basil for a caprese salad, bell peppers, onions, potatoes, and lots of other items.

A small preview of Munson Farms’ fall squash supply

I had to include the following picture, since it’s one of my favorites. I took this last fall at Munson Farms – it’s a great display of each type of winter squash they grew last year. If you’re in the market for pumpkins or winter squash, Munson Farms is THE place to go.

Squash Display at Munson Farms

Squash Display at Munson Farms

One of my favorite farms at the Boulder Farmers’ Market is Red Wagon Organic Farm. They have quite a large farm stand at 95th & Arapahoe in Lafayette, with a pretty vast selection of produce.

Onions, Apples and Pears at the Red Wagon Organic Farm Stand

As we found out at a farm dinner at Red Wagon a couple of years ago, they like to try different varieties to explore which ones taste best and grow well locally. This makes checking them out at either the Farmers’ Market or their farm stand a rewarding endeavor.

Summer Squash and Onions at the Red Wagon Farm Stand

The Red Wagon Farm Stand also has produce from other growers in Colorado, which reinforces the cooperation and respect among local farmers I’ve noticed when I’ve heard them talk about their businesses.

Beets, Peppers, and More Peppers at the Red Wagon Farm Stand

The are lots of other farm stands to check out in the area in addition to Munson’s and Red Wagon:

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I didn’t make it to the Boulder Farmers’ Market every Saturday this season, but I made 18 visits starting in June, as part of my attempt to eat more local foods. I was never really a regular or serious Farmers’ Market customer in previous years. My husband and I would go once a year, and stop by if we happened to be downtown while it was going on, but that’s about it. I’m so glad that I started going regularly. I feel like I got to know more about many of the local farms, farmers, and what crops are grown locally, as well as discovering a few local products I wasn’t familiar with.

Perhaps the most fun aspect was seeing the progression of crops during the season. I’m re-reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and with perfect timing, have gotten to the chapter where she describes the conceptual vegetannual. The vegetannual (which would be a really handy plant to grow in your garden, by the way), represents the evolution of crop types during the growing season. The season evolves as a plant does, first sprouting shoots and leaves, then flowering, then growing small fruits (or vegetables as the case may be), which progress to larger, more colorful versions, and then finally to hard-shelled produce. And as I looked back at the pictures of what I brought home from the market each week, I could see the progression of color from green to more and more vibrant colors, and then finally to fallish colors. I didn’t necessarily buy the best representatives of each stage (I’m missing good examples of the ‘flowery’ vegetables, like cauliflower and broccoli), but in general, I could see the pattern. My purchases for the season went from leafy/shooty garlic scapes, and greens, to chard and kale, to more vibrant and diversely colored eggplant, green and yellow wax beans, sunburst squash, red, yellow and orange bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes, and then to more fall-colored, hard-shelled pumpkins and winter squash. (Granted the hot-house grown tomatoes kind of threw things out of whack in the early months, but hey – tomatoes!).

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Over the course of the season, there were multiple stands I visited every week. 2R’s Farm kept me well supplied with early tomatoes, purple potatoes, and red, orange, and yellow bell peppers. I loved Far Out Gardens’ herbs, heirloom tomatoes, and wild arugula. From Red Wagon Organic Farm, I bought a huge amount of beets, greens, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Munson Farms was my corn supplier (and I got most of my pumpkins from their stand at 75th and Valmont). Discovering the variety of garlic at Wee Bee Farms started a new obsession with garlic. After attending a farm dinner at Aspen Moon Farms, I started visiting them for hot peppers, onions, and winter squash. Hazel Dell provided wonderful mushrooms, and I discovered a couple of varieties I hadn’t eaten before. I also made frequent stops at Cure Organic Farm, Isabelle Farm, Black Cat Farm, Growing Gardens, and Oxford Gardens. On the non-produce front, I replenished my supply of cinnamon-cayenne almonds as needed at Olomomo, tried many varieties of pasta from Pappardelle’s, and regularly procured a six-pack of mini cupcakes from Street Fare.

What a great season of local food! Thank you to everyone associated with the Boulder Farmers’ Market for a great year, and I look forward to the 2012 season!

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