Every Sunday from June through September the place to be is the Basalt Sunday Market, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. next to Town Hall. Many of the midvalley farmers are at the market with their fresh produce for the week, along with other food-centric small businesses.
Skip’s Farm to Market, a Basalt shop that specializes in produce and meat from regional farmers and other food products from area purveyors, has become another avenue for introducing local farmers to customers. The store was opened by Skip Doty, a well-known face at farmers markets and veggie stands throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. He founded Early Morning Orchard in Palisade in the early 2000s and has evolved into a leader in the locavore food movement. “It’s really fun to network with all the vendors. You know exactly where it’s coming from,” says Skip’s co-manager Dalene Barton, who notes the farmers build relationships via Roaring Fork Farmers and Ranchers. “It seems like an exciting time for food in this valley.”
Along with private lands, many young farmers are relying on leases from Pitkin County to get access to property at a lower rate. The county continues to expand its role to help support first-generation farmers, and most recently bought 10 acres near Emma to add to its leasing program. In the most recent survey of residents, 74 percent said they want the county to continue to encourage local agriculture and food production. In 2019 the county will lease 362 acres for agriculture purposes, about a quarter of that will be for small farming, said Paul Holsinger, who is the director for the county’s AG program.
The county has invested in agriculture on part of the 73-acre Lazy Glen Open Space, which is run by the county and is a sun-drenched area a few miles from Downtown Basalt near the Roaring Fork River. “All the people who have been involved in the farmers markets scene, they’re seeing these farmers starting to have longevity,” says Holsinger, who also pointed to Skip’s as another connection. “In the past, the county’s role was mainly cattle and hay production. The benefits of small vegetable farms and seeing them around are a bit more in your face.” He said they always are looking for new property to add, and will continue to grow the program and add the small-acreage farms. “I love seeing what’s happening there,” said Thompson, who now lives in Oregon. “I tell that story (about the county’s role) to the farmers here, and their response is that’s a unicorn circumstance. It’s just so unique.”