Shopping local: Fort Collins Farmers’ Markets thrive

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Shire Farm offers a variety of organic produce at Saturday’s Farmers’ Market.

Correction: A previous version of this story said that the Goodness Food truck provides free food on Thursdays at the Shire, when in fact the Shire provides the Goodness Food truck with produce used to create dishes that are available for purchase. The Collegian regrets its error. 

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Photo Credit: Josephine Bush and Hannah Hemperly

Three days a week, Fort Collins hosts farmers’ markets, inviting the public to support local farmers, artists, wineries and more.

The markets have ‘community’ written all over them, as participants can support local efforts, learn about the products and understand where they come from. 

Farmers’ markets are located on Mason Street and Olive Street Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., on Drake Road and Shields Street from 10 a.m to 1 p.m., and on Harmony Road and Lemay Avenue on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The markets run weekly from May through October.

According to Ryan Wiens,  a former CSU horticulture major, the goal of farmers’ markets is to support a local market while producing great products that are organic.

“Our goal is to have a zero carbon footprint in coming years,” Wiens said. “Right now, we recycle all of our water and most of our soil.” 

In 2009, Wiens dropped out of school to get a loan and start his organic farm. Westbridge Farms, located just north of Fort Collins, has been in operation and selling organic food since 2012. According to Wiens, they currently have three employees.

“We believe in what we are doing, in our product … to be sustainable,” Wiens said. “It’s about the people and making a good product before making an income.” 

Westbridge Farms does all of their farming in a greenhouse, where they vertically stack much of their produce for efficiency, so it is only exposed to the freshest air, according to employee Katie May.

“One of our main products are sunflower shoots, which have many antibiotics and are very good for you,” May said. “Some cancer patients are going on juicing diets which cleanse their colons and have been proven to help reverse cancer.”

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Other farms are finding other ways to open their doors to locals. 

CSA Shire is a farm located near Spring Creek. A small portion of their farm goes to feeding those who are less fortunate. The Growing Project works on about one-third of the Shire land in order to make ends meet for northern Colorado families.

On Thursday evenings at 5 p.m., CSA Shire donates food to the The Goodness food truck, which prepares the organic produce into incredible eats for buyers biking down Spring Creek trail, according to Shire employee Christina White. 

The extra produce given to The Goodness food truck enables them to create special, seasonal dishes.

“It’s a super fun way for the community to come together,” White said. “The Goodness food truck uses our extra produce from the week to create amazing food.”

According to White, it is the act of many diligent volunteers and workers, who put in long hours, that make Shire farm a possibility, along with programs such as The Growing Project.

Farm after farm, each has a story of its own, but all of the workers have the same goal: to create a tasty product in a sustainable manner.

CSU horticulture graduate Amy Kafka owns and manages Garden Sweet, located at 719 W. Willox St

“We grow all our food organically,” Kafka said. “My favorites are the strawberries, which went fast today.”

According to Kafka, consumers can also go to the farm, located just north of town, to buy products Tuesday through Friday. The farm is present at the markets in Old Town on Saturday and on Lemay and Harmony on Sunday. 

On top of farms, farmers’ markets showcase local companies that create sauces, nutritious bars and plants with an artistic twist.

CSU 2011 alumnus Sean Hall, who studeid human dimensions and natural resources, cooks Horsetooth Hot Sauce by hand several days a week.

“It’s all done by hand, and we make hot sauce and barbecue sauce,” Hall said.

You can buy three bottles of hot sauce for $16 at the weekly farmers’ market. 

WB Kitchens is also adopting a specific niche, selling cookies and nutritional bars to those with extensive allergies. 

“We cook with organic products such as coconut oil, coconut milk, and then use local raw honey as our sweetener,” said WB Kitchen employee and CSU alumna Emily Peterson. 

Avid gardeners Jan and Charlie Cox bring their special flair to the farmers’ market each week. The two plant succulents, which need very little water for survival, into old trinkets like plastic dinosaurs and baby dolls.

“We’ve been hoarders for years,” said Jan Cox. “We buy junk and turn it into something fun.”

 CSU Extension helps to put the Fort Collins Farmers’ Markets together each week. According to Allison O’Connor, CSU master gardener, the goal of CSU Extension is to provide knowledge to the people about food safety and agriculture. CSU Extension also offers summer classes on food preservation and preparation.

Farmers’ markets will be running weekly in Fort Collins through October. To find out more about market locations and hours, visit their website

Summer farmers’ market hours:

Mason & Olive St. – Saturday from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Drake & Shields St. – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Harmony Road & Lemay Ave. – Saturday & Sunday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Collegian Senior Reporter Josephine Bush can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.