Farmers’ markets cropping up

With the farmers’ market season under way, growers have less produce than usual but hope that will change.

The Portales and Clovis farmers markets have been open since June.

“We’re selling the little stuff,” said Margie Plummer, manager of both markets. “We don’t have a lot ready right now because of the weather.”

The heat, wind and previous lack of rain set Plummer’s garden back a month, she said. Other growers are in the same position, and some have given up.

Even if the weather continues to hinder growers, Plummer said, they’ll have plenty of produce, just not as much as they would otherwise.

Now, Plummer said, three or four vendors are selling squash, red potatoes, onions, garlic, greens and a few bell peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. The same vendors offer the same produce at both markets, she said.

Throughout the season, Plummer expects 10-15 vendors to participate in the market. Green chile, watermelon, peas, beans and more tomatoes should appear later in the summer.

About the second week of August, she expects to hold a grand opening at the Portales market. Last year, the event included live music, giveaways and a coloring contest for children.

Plummer plans to have much of the same activities this year. In addition, representatives of the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service have offered demonstrations, recipes and so forth at the market in the past.

Don Wiley, who sells produce and his wife’s homemade soap at both markets, said while the weather has slowed things down, things are starting to look up.

“The rain we got (Monday) night sure helped,” Wiley said.

His land received a little more than an inch of rain that night.

Wiley, who grows 30 different vegetables just inside the Curry County border, said he expects to harvest cucumbers, spaghetti squash, potatoes and green beans in about a week. Watermelon, cantaloupe, corn and black-eyed peas are among the produce he expects to have later in the year.

Wiley touted the quality of produce as the reason people should shop at farmers markets.

“The quality of the vegetables they get they won’t find anywhere else because everything the farmers sell is picked the day before or the day of the market,” Wiley said, adding that doesn’t happen in stores.

Farmers also sell only their best produce and may offer items customers can’t find in stores or restaurants, he said.

Plummer said the freshness of the produce means it has more nutrients. Also, customers know what conditions, pests and chemicals the fruits and vegetables were subject to, she said.

The farmers markets are scheduled to run through October. Wiley said he would sell produce from his greenhouse for a couple of months afterward.