A market with history

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By The Staff

I do hope many of you read a recent article in our Essence about the fun of shopping for and eating foods grown locally. Our local Farmers Market has its own long and interesting history. In fact, our own Los Alamos Farmers Market is the oldest continuous farmers market in our state.

A very determined member of our community, Jesse Rudnick, along with members of the League of Women Voters decided it was time to be able to purchase locally grown fresh produce. Los Alamos County was involved from the very beginning in helping to find a good location for the market. Some of you old timers may remember a time when the market was set up right on Central Avenue and we all shopped in the middle of the street.  Sometimes it is fun to have lived here forever so we can remember those things.  

Our market started in about 1970, a few years later Santa Fe started its market and it quickly grew even larger.  Last year, the Los Alamos Farmer’s Market became part of LACDC’s MainStreet Program and our organization will work hard to help ensure its long term viability in our downtown. The market vendors have elected an advisory committee from their ranks to have input on rules and resolving issues. A local volunteer, Gale Barlow is also a member of the advisory committee to provide input on behalf of the community.

The market is always a reminder that farming has been a way of life in New Mexico for centuries. However, the market has added a whole new perspective to community life as well. It has helped our neighbors and changed the way we look at things. It has also been fun and interesting to watch changes in the Farmers Market over the years. As our growers and producers have gotten more comfortable with us and have expanded their interests over the years they have added crafts, pastries, meats, cheese, prepared foods and crafts to the market offering. The market managers have worked hard to make the market a good place for both buyers and sellers and have been successful at that.

Los Alamos has been a supportive customer base.  It is fun to shop, but what I find just as interesting are the innovative ways some of the farmers are using the land. They have learned to conserve water, they have learned to grow more on small pieces of land and I am always hearing from them about the new techniques of farming.

We look forward to those early crops such as cherries and lettuce; we move onto the apricots and string beans, adding melons, squash and those delicious tomatoes before the summer ends. We have another plus, of course … those chiles. The green chiles make our mouths water (and our eyes) but the red chile ristras remind me that winter is coming and our market is changing. For me, it has meant that I’ll be talking soon to other legislators about which chile is better ... Chimayó or Deming or Las Cruces. Of course, our Chimayó chile is always best. We can even argue about the spelling: chili, chile, or just make it plural, chilies.

Our Farmers Market is a great place to run into friends, meet people from different parts of our great Northern New Mexico, ask questions and get to know each other better. It has been controversial at times, for a variety of reasons. But the support has always been there when needed and Northern New Mexico has enjoyed getting back to their roots in many cases.  Farmers Markets have become popular all over the state and country, but ours will always be the most important one to me.

Jeannette Wallace is a member of the Board of Directors of Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC). LACDC’s vision is “Vibrant community through a flourishing economy.” LACDC operates the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce, Los Alamos MainStreet, the UNM-LA Small Business Development Center, the Los Alamos Research Park and other community and economic development activities.

Editor’s note ­— The Los Alamos Farmers Market begins another season May 6 in the parking lot between Mesa Public Library and Fuller Lodge.