The Fort Collins farmer’s market scene doesn’t die when the weather turns cold. Instead, it simply moves inside.
For 15 Saturdays of the winter season, Be Local Northern Colorado, a community nonprofit, creates an indoor farmers market filled with fresh local produce, handmade jewelry and live music inside the Opera Galleria of Old Town.
“The advantage of an indoor market is that we can host a market in the winter time, which is historically the off season,” said Michael Baute, farmer’s market manager for Be Local. “Once this market started and people had a winter avenue to sell their agricultural products, people started to invest in greenhouses.”
The market is in its seventh year, but for many vendors this is their first experience. One such vendor is Hazel Dell Mushrooms, a certified organic mushroom farm specializing in exotic mushrooms.
“Our medium is sawdust that we get from local door and cabinet makers. We grow indoors because of the climate in Colorado,” said Ryan Hull, a representative of Hazel Dell.
The market won’t be the only place you will see mushrooms from Hazel Dell. They sell to Whole Foods, King Soopers and most restaurants in the Front Range, according to Hull.
For $6 you can purchase a half-pound bag of six different types of mushrooms.
Don’t have cash on you? No problem. The managers of the market have a program called “Market Bucks.” You can get any amount of market bucks in five-dollar increments by charging it to your debit or credit card.
“Most of the vendors don’t have credit card machines,” Baute said. “We don’t want to turn anyone away if they don’t have cash.”
The market also accepts EBT cards and offers a two for one promotion for EBT users.
Inside the Opera Galleria are even more local businesses that also benefit from the market. The Savory Spice Shop, left of the Galleria, experiences a larger amount of customers on market days.
“I love having the farmers’ market next to us. Things that you buy in the market can complement spices, herbs, and seasonings,” said Susan Kirkpatrick, owner and manager.
The shop offers 450 different blends and seasonings including exotic spices and 40 different themed gift sets. The spices come in a pre-measured glass jar or can be put into smaller and larger measurements in plastic bags.
Kirkpatrick, a former political science professor at CSU, enjoys seeing students at the market and in her shop.
“One thing I notice with more and more young people and students is that they don’t take the plastic bags. I appreciate that,” she said.
Kirkpatrick added that they offer refills if you purchase the spices in a jar.
The market is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Many of the vendors represented at the market have their shops in Old Town.