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5/20/2004

Plentiful harvest

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — One tradition continues, and another will begin this Saturday.

The Longmont Farmer’s Market will begin its 16th year this Saturday morning, and the Longmont Downtown Farmer’s Market will make its debut on Fourth Avenue between Main Street and Kimbark Avenue.

The two markets are not affiliated with each other.

The Longmont Farmer’s Market was located downtown once upon a time, as well as in the Kmart parking lot on N. Main Street.

“We’ve bounced around a lot; we’ve actually been at the (Boulder County) fairgrounds for about eight years now,” said Heather Burtness, manager of the Longmont Farmer’s Market.

Originally founded by the Boulder County Farmer’s Market in 1988, the Longmont Market officially merged with the Boulder Market in 2003. “We’re kind of like siblings,” Burtness said.

She said she expects somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 vendors for opening day, a number that will fluctuate as the season goes on.

Spring greens, asparagus, spinach, bell peppers and greenhouse-grown tomatoes and cucumbers are some of the items expected for this weekend, Burtness said.

The Longmont and Boulder Markets are emphasizing their separation from the new downtown market — which is run by a different group — even going so far as to issue a press release stressing the difference.

Asked if she thought there was room for two in Longmont, Burtness replied, “My interpretation of it is it’s going to be kind of a merchant’s market — more of a mix. We’re more of a true farmer’s market.”

She said the mission of her market is for farmers to be a able to interact with customers and to educate them about where their food comes from.

The new Longmont Downtown Farmer’s Market will be run by the Colorado Farmer’s Market Group, which operates markets in other communities, including Littleton, Westminster and Arvada.

Along with farmers from around the state, downtown Longmont merchants have been invited to participate in the market, according to Longmont Downtown Development Authority executive director Mary Murphy-Bessler.

“There’s been a lot of interest,” Murphy-Bessler said. “It’s been non-stop — we’ve received numerous phone calls every day in relation to this.”

Fourth Avenue between Main Street and Kimbark Avenue will be blocked off for the market, but there are two large parking lots off of Kimbark within easy walking distance, she said.

“I just submitted an expansion plan (to the city), so if we end up running out of room we have a backup plan,” said Murphy-Bessler.

Bill Flother of the Colorado Farmer’s Market Group said he expects “at least 15” farmers and merchants to be downtown for opening day.

Flother, who grows fruit on the Western Slope, said some of the items to be featured are locally produced cheeses, fresh pasta and farm-raised elk meat.

August Trimbath, owner of August Morning Coffeehouse & More, said she’s excited about the market’s downtown presence, and her shop plans to be there offering coffee, fresh bread and pastries. Maybe more once she can wrangle her way through the red tape of Boulder County Public Health.

According to Joe Malinowsky, the agency’s consumer protection coordinator, certain food and beverages sold at farmer’s markets are subject to state statutes. But it all depends on the type of food.

“Coffee is exempt, unless they start doing ice,” Malinowsky said. “If you do iced coffee, then you fall back into the Retail Food Act.”

Farmer’s Markets are not considered “temporary events”, so the statutes are fairly restrictive, he said.

Trimbath said that at some point this season, she hopes August Morning will be offering homemade pestos and quiche at the Longmont Downtown Farmer’s Market.

Murphy-Bessler agreed that the downtown market will be somewhat different than the longstanding Longmont Farmer’s Market.

And she said that people can expect a lively atmosphere for opening day, given that the downtown market, Art Walk and the Pet and Doll Parade all going on.

“It’ll be a great kickoff weekend for the summer season downtown,” she said.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.