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Native son shines on C’dale farmers’ market

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Carbondale Farmers’ Markets

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays

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5:30 to 8 p.m. First Fridays

Fourth and Main

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Basalt Sunday Market

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10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays

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Midland Spur Road

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Glenwood Springs Farmers Markets

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays near Rite Aid

4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays at Sayre Park

Aspen Saturday Market

8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays

Galena & Hopkins

New Castle Community Market 

4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays

Burning Mountain Park

Silt Farmers Market

6 p.m. to dusk Mondays 

Silt Historical Park

Rifle Farmers Market

4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays

Second Street lot

By Will Grandbois
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Ben Armstrong thinks a farmer’s market would make a great setting for a reality TV show.

The Aspen native has been involved in the Carbondale markets as a vendor for Roaring Gardens in the past, but this year he’s in charge of the whole event.

“I kind of didn’t know how much work it was going to be to manage,” he said. “Now that it’s starting it’s a lot more rewarding.”

Armstrong got interested in agriculture while running a composting toilet program in Bolivia, and found his opportunity to get involved in the local food scene with former classmate Whitney Will last year.

“I didn’t know that much about farming, but she needed someone she knew was reliable,” he recalled.

He’s learned a lot, not just about food, but about all the cool things happening downvalley.

“I love living in Carbondale so far,” he said. “It was cool to kind of reconnect with the community in a different way and get to know all the farmers and people working on local food issues. It’s a cool community full of regional Western Slope people.”

With 24 vendors, the daytime market boasts a wide variety of produce, prepared foods, artisans’ goods and more.

“I think it’s the biggest it’s ever been,” Armstrong said. “We fully fill up the block, which is awesome.”

It’s complimented by a produce-only First Friday event, which goes towards Armstrong’s main goals of accessibility.

“We want to make it an all-inclusive event,” he said. “I think sometimes people think of farmers’ markets here of being real expensive and inaccessible, but it’s important for people to understand the value of what they’re buying … From the nutritional value and taste of the fruits and veggies to the quality of the artisan work or canned goods, everything will probably last or taste or work longer than things you buy at the store … there is nothing like a good fresh tomato, peach, cabbage or local meat!”

He recommends looking at what’s in season and grows well locally for the best deals. Long term, he’d like to see the market accept food assistance to be even more affordable.

In addition to what’s on the tables, Armstrong sees the people behind the booths as one of the market’s greatest assets.

“You can talk to your farmers and the people preparing your food,” he said. “There’s just a lot more connection.”

Add to that live music every week, and it’s an event worth attending even if you don’t plan to buy much.

As for Armstrong, he has some grand plans for the future depending on what happens now that the property Roaring Gardens’ occupies has sold (see the related story “TCI Ranch sells for $7.2 million; polo planned”) — though the new owners are letting them stay on through Halloween.

“I want to keep farming,” he said.

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