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Five ways to do a farmers' market right.

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Barring a sudden and immense snowstorm, I'd be hard pressed to find a Denver resident who is upset with one of the earliest springs we've encountered in some time. As a result, we may be entitled to enjoy the fruits of the season a few weeks earlier than usual.

These fruits, of course, come by way of the seasonal farmer's markets. In past years there has been a resurgence in the demand for quality, responsibly grown, locally produced food. Where grocery stores lag, farmers markets have picked up by giving local farms, urban gardeners, and artisan bakers and brewers a place to sell their goods.

The first, and one of the Denver-Metro area's largest, is the Colorado Fresh Market in Cherry Creek. Starting May 5th, and every Saturday (and Wednesday starting June 20th) local produce growers, bakers, salsa-istas, and poultry wranglers gather to share their wares with the community. On May 20th, the Old South Pearl Farmers Market gets going at the intersection of South Pearl and Florida, in Old South Pearl.

Top Five things to remember in order to do the Farmer's Market Right:

1) Set your alarm and arrive early. When the good stuff is gone, it's gone. Don't bet on their being more fresh tomatoes or chiles the next week. The beauty of the farmers market is that it is in season. Markets are also more enjoyable when the day is still a little cooler

2) Get to know the vendors. Chances are, they are the same folk's who created the food you're about to eat. Usually they're more than happy to share samples. You can always tell when someone has direct involvement with the development of what they are selling. They can tell you anything there is to know.

3) Be suspicious of out-of-season fruits and veggies. For example: local tomatoes aren't usually available until mid-June at the earliest. Stands that have them earlier likely shipped them in from California.

4) Bring your own bags. Bring cash. Bring screen. Show up on a bike. These three elements can make your experience that much earlier (parking in Cherry Creek on a Saturday can be something short of a nightmare.)

5) Make some friends. More likely than not, the people who are selling and shopping at these markets live in your neighborhood. Get to know some of them. Arrange dinners featuring the fresh foods you've just purchased.



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