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By Kathleen O’Connor

It’s summer in Durango, and nothing heralds an appreciation of the season more than the eagerly anticipated return of the Durango Farmer’s Market. When approaching the market at the TBK Bank parking lot on West 9th Street, a sensory spectacle awaits as the aroma of hand-baked artisanal bread mingles with fresh flowers and crisp mountain air. Brightly colored produce adds harmony to the melodious tunes of a live band. Friends gather to catch up on life, and soon-to-be friends pass by with a smile.

The Farmer’s Market is more than a transactional space where folks exchange money for food and goods. It’s a vibrant social epicenter built around connection, sustainability, and local production.

“Farmer’s markets are important because they’re such a beautiful intersection of community, culture, and nourishment,” said Anna Knowles, Durango Farmer’s Market manager. Knowles moved to Durango in September 2022 and wasted no time becoming one of the outdoor market’s frequent visitors.

“I’ve always been a strong advocate for shopping locally, especially to support farmers,” she added.

On Saturdays, from mid-May through October, locals and tourists converge to peruse locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh eggs and cheese, grass-fed beef, and homemade baked treats. During the 2023 season, 125 local and regional vendors exhibited a spectrum of goods, from traditional produce to flavorful raw honey and tasty gourmet mushrooms. Vendors showcasing ready-to-eat vittles offer several breakfast and lunch options. The immense talent of regional artists is on full display through unique hand-crafted items, including jewelry, beadwork, pottery, and other eye-popping wares. Last year, Knowles brought the much-appreciated addition of three picnic tables to the market, perfect for munching a flaky pastry and sipping coffee while relaxing and listening to live music.

“We’ve got some regulars at the market who I adore,” Knowles said. “They’re here the entire time to listen to the music, eat breakfast, and drink coffee. Having picnic tables available makes a huge difference for families.”

Making a difference in the lives of community members is something the Farmer’s Market and Knowles hold as a top priority.

“We strive to be a lifeline for the Durango community,” said Knowles.

This lifeline includes numerous community-backed offshoots to those who experience food insecurity. The Centura Health-sponsored “Fresh to Flourish” program provides doctors’ prescriptions for fruits and vegetables to be redeemed at the market. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assists low-income households in conjunction with the Double Up Food Bucks program, which doubles the monetary value of SNAP benefits for families. Besides SNAP funds, participants can also use Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) dollars to purchase fresh food items.

“The Farmer’s Market and our producers are huge advocates of these community programs,” said Knowles. “In fact, accepting these programs is one of our vendor requirements.”

To witness community members on both sides of the booth help and support one another is a significant part of why Knowles loves her job.

“There’s so much kindness and generosity that happens at this market,” she said. “I’ve never seen a community come together in such mutual support for each other.”

Knowles has big plans as the Durango Farmer’s Market enters its 27th year in operation. She’s collaborating with the Colorado Farmers Market Association and other Western Slope farmers’ markets to create a map showcasing farmers’ markets in the region. Farmer’s market patrons can collect stickers from each market for placement on the map. If visitors attend a specific number of markets on the map, they’ll become eligible for a prize drawing during Colorado Farmers Market Week in August. This initiative highlights a novel way to engage communities while spreading awareness about the prevalence of farmers’ markets across the region. Knowles also looks forward to expanding partnerships with The Good Food Collective and Manna Soup Kitchen’s “Buy One Give One” program, which welcomes shoppers to buy produce from any of the vendors to place in one of Manna’s on-site coolers for donation to the organization.

As for her dream project, Knowles is brewing up the ultimate table-to-farm collaboration that will inspire visitors beyond their Saturday market meanderings.

“I’d love to work with our producers to create a Durango Farmer’s Market cookbook with recipes from the vendors,” she mused.

As the Durango Farmer’s Market continues to evolve, one underlying theme will always remain: the celebration of community and the vital role farmers’ markets play in cultivating healthy food systems for all.

For more information on the Durango Farmer’s Market, visit

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