We have a great music line up for July and a puppet show on July 18. Cristina Masoliver, and her delightful tiny friends, will bring us a tale ~ showtime is 12:00 p.m.
The music usually begins around 10:30 a.m. and wraps up around 1:30/2:00 p.m. every Sunday. Here’s the schedule this month:
Our market interns and our volunteers have been practicing pizza-making in the horno. You might want to check that out next time you stop by. Market internships are paid jobs for teens thanks to support from Red Willow Center at Taos Pueblo, your QFM t-shirt purchases, and support from our vendors.
Check out the corn too. We have a blue corn variety planted in one of our truck-bed-gardens and in some of the straw bale garden beds.
Here is a quick photo tour of our vendors – more farm, garden, and produce vendors always needed! Remember that our market participates in these Food Benefit Programs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This article was published in Questa Del Rio News (Volume III Issue 8) August 2020, pages 24-25.
Welcome to Questa Farmers Market 2020
Contributors: Caroline Yezer, Gaea McGahee, Amalia and Booboo Gonzalez, and Kaylee Piper
Questa Farmers Market
Visitor Center parking area
Sunday, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Questa Farmers Market is blooming! Located near the busy intersection of Hwy 522 and 38, the QFM greenery and flowers pull you in, just like a butterfly or a bee. And that’s intentional. Creating beauty as well as a marketplace is the goal of the organizers, volunteers, and market interns. Their drive is to support the vendors and to make a welcoming space for the community to come together. Visitors often remark that they hadn’t necessarily planned to stop, but were drawn to the curious plantings, and the quirky 1960s truck that’s a raised bed for corn and flowers.
Market gardens, planted and cared for by market interns and volunteers, are an oasis of sunflowers, marigolds, corn, squash, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, kale, chard and herbs (cilantro, dill, and basil), and they are meant to be shared. Stop by and visit the gardens; harvest carefully, use with joy.
When market intern, Booboo Gonzalez, reflected on the market one Sunday in mid July she said, “The farmers market, to me, is a very helpful place for people to meet up and sell vegetables for not even a high price. There’s a lot of fun stuff here; making coffee out of the horno, and lamb. There are a lot of gardens with fun stuff, so yeah.” She and her sister, Amalia Gozalez, plant and water the gardens along with Kaylee Piper. These three young women are the market interns this season (they are also teen members of the Active8, Vida del Norte Coalition). “They are 100% vital to the creation and care of the marketplace, which includes these gardens,” says organizer, Gaea McGahee. “You’ll also see Lorie and Andy Jaramillo watering and tending. We’ve doubled the garden space since last season, and there will be more green when we begin to plant trees. Very soon!” says Gaea. “I like working at the farmers market because it helps me make the community look a bit better than it already is,” says Amalia.
Market interns contribute to QFM social media content and recently made a TikTok account. You can also follow QFM on Facebook and Instagram, where interns share photos and videos from every market. You can pitch in any amount to support our interns’ paid seasonal positions by donating to QFM on our website, QuestaFarmersMarket.org or by buying a T-shirt at the market.
The Market’s cheeriness is inspiring and needed after months of a difficult pandemic. So many of us have been socially isolated / physically distancing. We are social beings and need interaction and community to thrive. To slow the spread of Covid-19 the best advice, if we are going to interact in community spaces, is to keep interactions outside, avoid enclosed places, and to wear masks when we are in public, sharing space.
The vendors’ booths are far apart and offer shade in the summer heat; built to make life easier for a vendor. The greenness of the site promises what we need right now: relief, renewal and hope. Most importantly, the people: those you may have known since you were born, your compadres and your primos. If you are new in town it is a social center, a place you can visit to find ways to help your community. Shopping local is a real form of support, not a trend, but how the world must work again.
If you come to Questa Farmers Market this Sunday, the social aspect, the safety of being outdoors with everyone masked, and the therapeutic benefits of growth and renewal are what you might immediately feel and appreciate. Less obvious but also beneficial are the ways neighbors can support each other at the market, by buying local products from farmers, bakers and craftspeople. These exchanges and material support systems restore our communal ties. They are essential to our well-being after so much time apart.
There is more work being done by Market volunteers, interns, vendors and organizers with an ambitious post-pandemic future in mind. In the past the market has been able to incorporate live music and dance. At the moment, neither are allowed due to the problems of social distancing. This has not stopped market organizers preparing for site expansion so that when the pandemic allows, music and dance can resume. The Questa Economic Development Fund is sponsoring a concrete dance pad. The LOR Foundation has committed funding to support site development and beautification work including the creation of a larger horno, more gardens, and planting native fruit and shade trees.
Questa Farmers Market volunteer, Andy Jaramillo, working on the horno with QFM interns. Photo by E. Wilde.
Market interns, left to right: Booboo Gonzalez, Kaylee Piper and Amalia Gonzalez. Photo by E. Wilde.
Like similarly-minded markets, Questa Farmers Market organizers are focused on bringing healthy food options to low income food-insecure places, to make fresh produce more affordable and to build local food networks. However these goals have become even more urgent during the pandemic. Shortages and delays in our food and supplies remind us how fragile our global supply chains are, and how easily our essential food supply could be put at risk.
A goal of the Market is to support a resurgence of agriculture in Questa that is sensitive to the needs of the local residents, local economies and our quality of life. QFM vendors accept EBT/SNAP, and the Market matches EBT/SNAP dollar for dollar with a federal grant, offering Double Up Food Bucks. At least 50% of goods sold must be from local (80 miles) NM farms and gardens, and the remaining portion can be prepared foods and crafts. QFM is authorized to accept WIC, and Senior Nutrition farm checks; these circulate July to Nov.
On the supply side, the Market applied for a grant through the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association and received funding to purchase food from local farms to contribute this local produce to the North Central Food Pantry for distribution to those in need. This effort is meant to help keep fresh produce a part of food pantry distribution (the second and fourth Friday of every month) and to support farmers who have lost markets (like restaurants and larger farmers markets).
Questa Farmers Market also serves as an incubator for small businesses and keeps vendors and other participants returning. This year Evelyn Treats, Cerro Vista Farms, Mesa Roots Garden, and several others including nine year old farmer, Gabby, are participating. Covid rules may have disrupted the music, but it is still the best place to get a Frito pie on a Sunday, and to laugh with a neighbor and plant seeds for our future together.
Letter from our intern:
The farmers market to me is one of the most important things in my life. It has shown me so much and I don’t know what I would do without it. I think it is one of the things that has helped turn my life around and helped me see the better in the world. And it is one of the things that has made me want to better myself as a person. I love the people and gardening. The farmers market has helped me through a lot of things and brings things into my life that I never want to lose. I am so thankful not only for the farmers market to come into my life, but also Active8 for that has changed my life in so many ways too. The farmers market is a good place, it is filled with good. It really showed me that there is still good in the world and I thank all the people in it. I recommend getting into things like this because it is worth it. Also the coffee here is amazing!!!
Questa Farmers Market is a community–led effort to localize our economy by supporting agriculturalists and makers during the growing season in beautiful northern New Mexico.
LOR Foundation Listening first, LOR works with rural communities in the Mountain West to enhance livability and prosperity while preserving the character that makes each community unique.
Vida Del Norte Coalitionunites Northern Taos County Communities in preventing and decreasing youth substance abuse. Active8, youth extension of the coalition actively participating to reduce youth substance misuse.