August 2019 Member of the Month: Ridgway Farmers Market
In an ongoing effort to promote and get to know our local businesses, the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to introduce our August 2019 RACC Member of the Month:
Ridgway Farmers Market
What was the inspiration for the founding of the Ridgway Farmers Market?
The original purpose of the market was to encourage agriculture in Colorado generally and the Western Slope of Colorado in particular, by providing a visible, accessible and inexpensive venue for retail sales of Colorado-produced agricultural products. The first Ridgway Farmers Market opened Sunday, July 9, 2000 at the Ouray County Fairgrounds in Ridgway. In 2012, the market migrated to the local hub of Ridgway's Hartwell Park where vendors are easily accessible under the glorious shade of the trees! Now in its 19th year, the Ridgway-Ouray community continues to embrace the market every season!
Who were some of the founding members of this nonprofit?
The Ridgway Farmers Market was formed in early 2000 by Jane Bennett. At the market’s first organizational meeting, Larry Cole was elected to chair the steering committee. Other members of the farmer’s market steering committee included CSU Extension Agent Gary Rushing of Norwood, Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce President Garry Chronister, Guy Borden of Borden Farm in Pea Green, and Julie Bursi of Julie’s Orchids in Ridgway.
Who is on the staff of the Ridgway Farmers Market?
The Market Manager is Adam Walters. The Marketing Manager is Stephanie Lauerman.
What are the nonprofit’s mission and goals?
The Ridgway Farmers Market was created to provide a cooperative and organized alternative for small-scale agricultural and specialty products. We promote local production of agricultural and specialty products and offer opportunities for producers to enhance their market skills. We strive to improve the variety, taste and freshness of products available to customers in our area and community.
We promote strong, trusting relationships between consumers and vendors by insisting on honesty and transparency in all aspects of the creation of the products. We create a space for interaction between the consumer and the producer. We believe that there are inherent benefits for the consumer, producer and community when food is grown, purchased and consumed locally. We enhance the quality of life in our area by providing a community activity that promotes a wholesome social gathering place.
Please share some key features of the market.
We are true Western Colorado vendors from the region.
Our vendors offer not just produce, but also many artisanwares, natural body products, pet goods, and more.
Products must be grown or made by the vendor – no resale or reproductions.
What do you like most about operating in Ridgway, Colorado?
It is a true pleasure to serve and see people enjoy the food, crafts, produce, and music in Ridgway Town Park every Friday during the late spring, summer and early fall months. This is an incredible community and we are grateful to be a part of it.
What is your biggest challenge?
It is a challenge to help the consumer understand the challenges and expenses of making homemade and growing locally grown food. We are not big box stores, but we are your friends, relatives and neighbors of the area. When you buy Western Colorado products, the money stays in our communities and is spent with other local businesses and people, thus helping the entire area to prosper.
What are your biggest rewards?
It is rewarding to see return customers who love our products and want more, and hear comments from visitors are about what an amazing market we have and how they love coming (week after week). Other rewards are smiles on faces, gathering people ,and knowing we are promoting amazing products from the Western Slope.
Any last thoughts?
The board and staff are so grateful for the continued support of vendors, shoppers, government, and others for helping make our market a success. Without everybody caring so much, this labor of love (or of local products we might say) could never happen!