Some communities have loads of grocery stores and Farmers Markets options, while others have little to none. Rose Thomas noticed the lack of options in her community of Green Valley Ranch in Denver, Colorado. Without any background in this, Rose dove in and founded the Green Valley Ranch Farmers Market. Tune in to discover the challenges and joys of starting a Farmers Market!
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Episode 54: Green Team Academy Podcast with Joan Gregerson
Green Valley Ranch is in the "Far Northeast" area of Denver, Colorado, just west of Denver International Airport. Rose Thomas has lived in this area with her husband for 20 years, from the time it was mostly fields and farms. Green Valley Ranch is now home to 30,000 people and yet has a single grocery store. Not just a "food desert", with plenty of non-nutritious options such as convenience stores, liquor stores and fast food, some refer to such areas as a "food swamp".
Ironically, the area was quite recently agricultural area of farms and fields, so it was the source of fresh, local food. But there was also no Farmers Market. After years of discussing the issue with friends and neighbors and hoping things would change, Rose made the decision in April 2016 to go ahead and start the Green Valley Ranch Farmers Market as a resource for Green Valley Ranch and other communities in the Far Northeast Region.
The Green Valley Ranch Farmers Market is now in its fourth year. The Market is operated under the Green Valley Ranch South Homeowners Association. Rose is the founder and chair of the Market.
That first year was rough. Most of the farmers had committed to other markets in January or February. And of the 10 vendors that committed, only three showed up to the first market day.
"Those three vendors had some of their highest selling days of any market!" said Rose. Even though it was a disappointing start for the number of vendors, the people that showed up vowed to support the market and expressed their appreciation. This buoyed her to keep going. They ended the first season with 10 vendors.
Every year the market has added new features. It now includes:
- Food trucks
- Live music
- Family-friendly activities by the GVR South HOA, and
- Instrument Petting Zoo by Swallow Hill Music
- Sustainability Themes with different nonprofit and community partners every market
The primary focus of the market is to build community engagement in a fun, healthy way where people of all backgrounds get together and enjoy each other and the environment.
Green Valley Ranch Farmers Market has grown to a total of 21 vendors, with an average of 15 at each market.
- Guicho's Antojitos food truck
- Toby's New Orleans Poboys food truck
- Ay Caramba food truck
- Colorado's Best Tamales
- Longmont Dairy
- Kogler's Bakery
- Leon's Hand-Popped Kettle Corn
- Body Crush Bath Company
- Champion Windows
- System Pavers
- ArtAlive Design Studio
The Market is seeking to add more traditional farmers market vendors for produce, cheese, meat, eggs, herbs and flowers. If you know of any, please encourage them to join the market!
Tip for Starting a Farmers Market
Lock in most of your vendors by Jan/Feb to support your summer farmers market (Jun-Aug).
Don't get discouraged if you can't get the vendors you want when you first start. Just keep at it and eventually it will grow and attract those vendors.
Advice for Starting an Initiative in Your Community
Don't wait to all of the details ironed out. You'll learn from each experience and make it better the next go around. It only takes one willing person to make a positive impact and encourage others to participate!
- Master Homeowners Association for Green Valley Ranch
Website and Farmers Market Vendor Application
- Green Valley Ranch Farmers Market Facebook Page @gvrfarmersmarket
- Events on Metro Denver Eco Happening Meetup
- Events on NextDoor
- Interest in Volunteering: Contact Rose Thomas, email firstname.lastname@example.org