Questa Farmers Market opens May 30, 2021 …and the 2020 Season Recap

Opening Day May 30, 2021 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Calling all local musicians!
Contact Market Organizer, Gaea, (575) 224-2102
We are a program of the local non-profit, Localogy

2020 Results: Thank you for Supporting Questa Farmers Market and Shopping Local

This article was published in Questa Del Rio News March 2021 pages 16-17
By Gaea McGahee, Questa Farmers Market Organizer

It’s mid-February of 2021 as I reflect on all we did at Questa Farmers Market during the 2020 season. Now that those busy months are settling into memory, let’s recall some of our accomplishments and grow inspired for the 2021 season, late May to Early October 2021!

The focus of QFM is to create a truly local market, welcoming to backyard gardeners and professional growers, people with family orchards, and young, ambitious farmers. We work creatively to accommodate the maximum number and variety of vendors.

Questa Farmers Market Vendors, Volunteers and Interns October 2020. Photo by E. Wilde.

This past season, we carried on under unusual conditions shaped by a global pandemic, brought people together, briefly and in the safety of the outdoors—each Sunday for 21 weeks from May 24 to October 11. We gained perspective in 2020 and we witnessed our resilience. During those five months of Sunday markets, neighbors supported each other by buying local products from farmers, gardeners, bakers, and craftspeople. On average there were seven vendors each Sunday and an average of 100 customers. And the market was a bright stopping place for visitors to our community.

We completed site beautification projects led by youth interns and volunteers, who planted vegetables and flowers, weeded and watered, and made sure that the marketplace supported the vendors and customers. We benefited from a grant from the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association (NMFMA) to get local produce into the distribution chain. We purchased food from local farmers whose supply lines were disrupted by COVID-19, and brought the food to the North Central Food Pantry, where demand had increased. We worked with several farms and increased the connection between community members in Questa and agricultural projects across the county. Our teen interns and volunteers, as well as the Food Pantry volunteers were key to the project.

Questa Farmers Market interns from left to right: (Alianna) Booboo Gonzalez, (and market volunteer) Andy Jaramillo, Ashlyn Rael and Amalia Gonzalez at Red Willow Farm, September 2020. Photo by G. McGahee.

Twice in the season, we harvested at Red Willow Farm and interns took the produce through the entire process; picking, washing, packing and delivery. QFM is seeking funding again to do a similar project in 2021. We gained new vendors in 2020, including Mesa Roots Farm. They moved from Three Peaks to Sunshine Valley by the end of the season and are currently planning for a strong 2021 growing season.

The Numbers

We track the financial impact of the market each year, and because 2020 was hard—we didn’t host live musicians, we didn’t encourage folks to linger and visit because of social distancing—I wondered how the 2020 numbers would turn out. The 2020 season brought in $2,300 less to the Questa area, with $19,425, compared to $21,737 in 2019. That total breaks down into three categories: 1.) $10,472 in Raw Agricultural Products (fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and honey), 2.) $7,547 in Produced Food (hot food, baked goods, processed farm products like pickles, preserves and pesto), 3.) $1,406 in Art and Craft (handmade items). The Market is organized around several core ideas: that we must support all vendors, no matter how small, and contribute to local economics. We believe that building roles for youth makes QFM dynamic and unique. Our previous seasons have shown that supporting jobs for youth at our market is meaningful: our internships are flexible and teens have a choice of learning and service activities. We’re committed to continue to offer these paid internships.

At the start of the 2020 season we employed two interns, then a third and a fourth joined: Amalia Gonzalez, Kaylee Piper, Alianna Gonzalez, and Ashlyn Rael, all of whom are in the Active8, of the Vida del Norte Coalition. There were projects and jobs to go around: “many hands make light work.” The LOR Foundation provided much of the funding for the teen internship program.

Working together to build and care for the inviting outdoor market space was an important part of the internship in 2020. They built new garden areas and a new larger horno alongside our dedicated Andy Jaramillo. This coming season we expect to use the horno regularly and hope to have interns take on this project.

QFM interns from left to right: (Alianna) Booboo Gonzalez, Kaylee Piper and Amalia Gonzalez beginning the horno project July 2020. Photo by E. Wilde.

Did you know you can help fund the internship program by purchasing gear we sell at the Market, designed by market helper/freelance graphic designer Emily Wilde: shirts, aprons, and stickers! You can donate directly to our internship program through PayPal – indicate that your donation is for Questa Farmers Market. Donations are tax exempt.

Site Improvements

QFM organizers, volunteers, interns, vendors, supporters (the Questa Economic Development Fund, The LOR Foundation, and several local businesses), and community members all contributed to site improvements last year.
•    The Questa Credit Union donated one of their shipping containers, which is being turned into a market hub.
•    Teen interns built a much larger horno, alongside Andy Jaramillo and others.
•    The interns along with our steadfast volunteers, Andy and Lorie Jaramillo, extended the garden zones at the market and tended to their thriving all season long.
•    The LOR Foundation provided funding in 2020 for extensive site development and beautification work, including materials for the new larger horno, for more gardens, and in preparing more land to use in planting native fruit and shade trees. Their grant also supported QFM in a project that turned plastic waste into walls in collaboration with RYNO and TiLT.
•    Once the COVID-19 health rules allow, live music and special events can return, and we will be able to enjoy our new concrete pad dance floor, which the Questa Economic Development Fund sponsored and Norman Garcia poured in November 2020.
•    And we all built the unforgettable Cucui monster together for Cambalache 2020!

QFM interns, left to right: Kaylee Piper and (Alianna) Booboo Gonzalez completing the Cucui head for Cambalache, Oct. 2020. Photo by E. Wilde.
Hopes for the 2021 season

•     Grow gardens in our current locations, make new beds, plant trees, add tables
•     Develop the land northwest of the current market area by adding parking, planting zone, and trees
•     Ahead of the season, build out the market hub–transform the shipping container into a space for SNAP/EBT transactions, market merchandise sales, storage, and more
•     Support youth entrepreneurs, and more vendors overall
•     Host music and special events
•     Seek funding to add local produce to the North Central Food Pantry distributions: this depends on surplus in the local food system as well as grant funding
•     Paint murals on some of the things we’ve built
•     Continue to increase support for local producers and regenerate agriculture in our communities

To be a “farmers market,” at least 50% of our vendors need to sell raw farm goods/unprocessed local foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, eggs, meat). “Local” means mainly New Mexico-grown within 80 miles of the market.  We are always looking for vendors, volunteers, and interns. You can find details about becoming a vendor here. We can arrange pickup at the farms or yards of anyone needing help with transportation.

Wendy, Aug 2020, QFM Vendor since 2016 (before the official birth of QFM). Photo by G. McGahee.

When we keep our money and resources in our community and choose to spend our dollars at our local market and businesses, this adds to everyone’s well-being. Supporting Questa Farmers Market vendors by shopping local is doing something great in small ways. We look forward to the 2021 season and to working with our interns, volunteers, vendors and community.

To contact Market Organizer, Gaea, (575) 224-2102
We are a program of the local non-profit, Localogy.

QFM organizer Gaea McGahee, November 2020. Photo by Andy Jaramillo
QFM Volunteers May – Oct 2020, Andy and Lorie Jaramillo caring for and harvesting from QFM gardens. Photo by G. McGahee.

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