The Opera Galleria in downtown Fort Collins was transformed into a meeting place for lovers of food and crafts at the Winter Farmers’ Market by NoCo Food.
Vendors from Fort Collins and other areas of Colorado came together to sell an array of “late season” produce, grass-fed meats, eggs, sauces and jams, baked goods, drinks and many other specialties. Live music and face painting makes this farmers’ market a perfect way to spend the day with family and friends.
“We try to provide an outlet for our farmers, food producers and crafters to get out into the general public and also allowing the community access to local food and locally produced items,” said market manager Debi Fowler. “We now have enough vendors to be able to put on this market 12 to 15 times a year.”
Since the start of the Winter Farmers’ Market 10 years ago, it has grown with more and more vendors each year, with each vendor having a unique story.
Rick Hicks and his wife Denise own By My Mother’s Side, selling over 40 different flavors of jams, marmalades, fruit butters and candies at food markets from Fort Collins to Estes Park. The couple does this as a hobby and a way to relax.
“My wife is diagnosed with cancer for a living and has a very stressful job,” Hicks said. “She loves cooking and being in the kitchen, so this is her therapy. Anything she makes I’ll go out and sell.”
Hicks also mentions ingredients for some of their jams comes from local businesses and vendors he has met at markets, and seems to really benefit from the collaboration of local people.
Besides fresh and tasty foods sold at the Winter Farmers’ Market, people can buy an array of alcoholic and fermented beverages.
One such vendor, Decadent Saint, offers concentrated sangria that customers can dilute to make up to five bottles of great tasting wine. David Sendros of Decadent Saint is from Barcelona, Spain and currently lives in Boulder with his girlfriend. Though he misses home every day, he enjoys his time working in the winery business here in Colorado.
“At Decadent Saint, we are pioneers of making four flavors of 20 percent alcohol real fruit concentrate, one for each meal,” Sendros says. “Our founder Michael actually made this concentrate by accident, but has since outnumbered wine sales, so we went along with it.”
Another unique beverage vendor is called Bootleg Boocha, who prides themselves on being the only Colorado kombucha brewery that ferment in premium oak barrels. Three ingredients: Yerba Mate Tea, reverse osmosis water and evaporated cane juice come together to create a health drink that could help your liver expel toxins, and give you a natural energy boost.
Bootleg Boocha’s humble beginning was in Josh Johnson’s house where he came up with ingredients and brewed it himself. Co-owner Ben Governale came and suggested the two start brewing in oak barrels. The company works closely with organizations such as Save the Buzz to help save and conserve bees, as they play an important role in food production.
“I saw the passion Josh had with brewing and decided to invest a little money into him,” Governale said. “I helped grow the business and then eventually a little became a lot and we became partners and I fell in love with the process too.”
Bootleg Boocha is on tap at many local stops such as the Downtown Artery and the Alleycat cafe.
“We only make original kombucha,” Johnson said. “We want this drink to be a fun game and also a fact that you can make original kombucha that tastes great without adding anything extra to it.”
The Winter Farmers’ Market can be a great way to spend an afternoon because of the diversity of vendors. From Papa Joe’s Local Honey to Savvy Disco Designs, named after a racing hound, there is something to help everyone appreciate the artistry of local handcrafts and agriculture.
Upcoming dates are available at fortcollinsfarmersmarkets.com
Collegian reporter Sarah Ehrlich can be reached at can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter