By Jared Tucker: Freedom New Mexico

Spring is here, summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to bring the best harvest of vegetables to area farmers’ markets.

Beginning the end of June, area vendors will gather at two locations — one in Clovis and one in Portales — to sell a variety of fresh produce, according to Farmers’ Market Manager Margie Plummer.

She said her harvest is running behind for this time of year, but other vendors should have plenty of squash, onions, beans and other vegetables to sell when the markets open.

“Portales will probably have 15 to 20 different vendors, 10 which are full time, and Clovis has about that many, maybe a little more,” said Plummer.

Plummer said there are many benefits to buying fresh produce from the farmers’ market — two are nutrition and quality.

Plummer said produce grown outside the U.S. or in other states loses vitamins and quality from being shipped and stored days before it’s sold.

“There’s no comparison to the quality. Because when this is ready, we’ll probably pick it today or tonight, and sell it tomorrow,” she said.

Plummer said there is more to the farmers’ market than just selling vegetables. It’s a social event.

She said some people, especially the elderly, come out to the market just to visit.

Don Sena is an employee at Portales Hardware, and said he enjoys coming out to the farmers’ market every year to buy fresh vegetables and talk to people he hasn’t seen in a while.

“Mainly the fresh vegetables, especially the green chile, you know, the smell of it when they roast them,” said Sena, talking about what he likes best about the market. Sena also said he would like to see more protection from the sun at future farmers’ markets.

Plummer said the Clovis Farmers’ Market opens June 26, and the Portales market July 1.

Plummer hopes to have more live bands and entertainment this year than previous ones at the grand opening, sometime around August. Plummer said she will announce the exact date of the grand opening festivities, which will include produce give-aways and much more.