Even if there’s frost on the fields, even after the farmers market shuts down for the season, you can still eat local in Boulder County. Here’s how.
1. Shop the Winter Market
The final farmers market was the weekend before Thanksgiving, but many local farms, ranchers and businesses still have stock. You can find a huge gathering of more than 100 local vendors at the annual Winter Market.
This year, it was Dec. 7-8 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont. Even if you missed it, put this annual event on your schedule for every winter. This event, organized by the Boulder County Farmers Market, features everything from fresh, in-season produce to meat, eggs, baked goods, preserves, cheese, hot sauce, wine, coffee, honey and kombucha. In-season produce centers around root veggies, like potatoes, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes and squash. The event is free and includes live music, free kids’ activities, free gift-wrapping (with a donation to the Longmont Food Rescue) and a chance to buy holiday gifts for local children in need.
2. Educate Yourself
The more you know, the better you can make it through the winter with locally sourced food. Many area farms hold educational classes and ways to live off the earth and develop new (old-school) skills. You don’t have to be a farmer or even a gardener to reap the benefits of the harvest.
For example, the Lyons Farmette can teach you about bee-keeping, bitters and cocktails, edible flowers and how to keep chickens. Growing Gardens can teach you about pasta-making, bee-keeping, farm-to-table cooking and canning and preserving, especially useful for the colder seasons. And Three Leaf Farm has workshops about making jams and jellies, among other topics.
One of the best offerings: Learn to make your own cheese (using local milk) at the Mountain Flower Dairy in Longmont. The hands-on Art of Cheese classes are led by a dairy goat farmer in a special Cheese Education Center in the Haystack Mountain Creamery or at the dairy goat farm near Longmont. Offerings include cheese-making paired with wine, cheese-making date nights and quick and easy cheeses.
Read more about cool classes you can take at local farms online at www.travelboulder.com/cool-classes-you-can-take-at-local-farms.
In addition, the Winter Market will include a variety of useful demos to help you keep eating local through the winter. Learn how to properly store produce, can, ferment, pickle and prepare it in various ways. Another vendor will do a tutorial on making salsa.
If you don’t want to do the work, you can buy canned or dry produce (like dried apples or applesauce) to supplement your meals through the winter.
Wood recommends buying in bulk at the Winter Market and then asking the farmers how to store everything. Different veggies will have different needs.
Wood says she fills a large cooler with sand, fills it with winter produce and stores it in her basement (or another cool, dark location that won’t freeze). The sand helps keep everything at a constant temperature and extracts extra moisture. She says she also does this with apples but keeps them separate from root veggies because they emit different gases when ripening.
3. Shop the Late Farm Stands
While most farms shut down for winter, a few typically stay open through mid-December. This all depends on the weather, so make sure you call first before visiting.
Aspen Moon Farm in Hygiene usually keeps its Tuesday and Wednesday farm stand open through mid-December. Sign up for the newsletter on their website to stay up-to-date on closings.
Boulder-based Cure Organic Farm’s daily stand usually stays open, too. It offers a special winter CSA (a food share that you can buy into), featuring the likes of salad mix, broccolini, cauliflower, onions, winter squash, dry soup beans, garlic and more. Year-round, Cure also offers an egg share, bread share, wine and cheese and coffee share.
Red Wagon Farm in Boulder also has a winter CSA. You can join for free if you want to just get emails alerting you to what veggies are available at each pickup (since veggie growth is not predictable). Winter share options include organic mushrooms, eggs, organic coffee from a local craft micro-roastery (Conscious Coffees), beef and pork.
Monroe Organic Farms in Kersey (about an hour from Boulder) also offers a winter CSA. If that’s already booked up, sign up for next year’s share. Monroe offers monthly produce boxes through the winter. While the farm isn’t necessarily growing anymore in the fields, it sells boxes of root veggies and produce with a long shelf life that can be stored.
4. Buy Local Meat
Local meat is easier to find year-round because it’s easy to freeze and doesn’t need to be harvested during the off-season. You can find meat vendors at the Winter Market, and some have once-a-month pickups at their ranch. You can also search local CSAs for meat shares.
5. Think Outside the Farm
Eating local isn’t limited to produce and meat. In Boulder, you can also find locally made baked goods (check out Shamane’s Bakery for starters), locally packaged tea (Celestial Seasonings), locally roasted coffee (Ozo Coffee Company, among others), locally crafted beer and distilleries, chocolate bars (Chocolove) and local dog food companies.
Also add in some specialty foods, like Frasca Food and Wine’s beloved red pepper jelly (you can buy it online or in the restaurant) or garlicky marinara fresh from Pasta Jay’s downtown. Season with flavors from the Colorado Spice Company, made in Boulder. Wash down your meal with wine from local BookCliff Vineyards or Settembre Cellars or mead from the Redstone Meadery.
Lots of big-name natural foods have Boulder ties: Justin’s Nut Butter, White Wave, Bhakti Chai, Udi’s and Izzio’s Bread, Bobo’s Oat Bars, Boulder Cookie, Boulder Canyon chips and snacks (the Canyon Cuts wavy chips are best-sellers; also check out the Protein Chips), Boulder Brands (this includes Earth Balance, Udi’s, EVOL Foods and Glutino products), Ancient Harvest, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Quinn Popcorn, Boulder Ice Cream, Keen One Quinoa cups, soups from Boulder Organic Foods, Made in Nature organic snacks (like dried fruit and kale chips), Open Road Snacks (formerly the Rocky Mountain Popcorn Company), Skinny Crisps gourmet crackers and more. Longmont is home to Honey Bunchies honey bars, regularly a top-seller at healthy grocers like Sprouts.
While all of these companies may not use exclusively Colorado-sourced ingredients, they have Boulder County ties and are recognized for their health standards.
Read more online at www.travelboulder.com/boulder-natural-food-companies.