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Durango Farmers Marekt celebrates resiliency for National Farmers Market Week

Durango Farmers Market joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week through Saturday.

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition, a membership-based 503(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide through training, technical assistance, and network-building. This year, the campaign is centered around the essential role that farmers markets play in the food system as demonstrated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Farmers markets respond to the immediate needs of their community and though we have offered an ‘event’ atmosphere in the past with live music and other activities, this year we are able to scale back to the essential role of a farmers market, which is bringing our local food to our local residents,” said Melanie McKinney-Gonzales, manager of the Durango Farmers Market, in a news release.

In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have been scrambling to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. When conventional food supply chains failed at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resiliency of short supply chains and interest in local foods spiked nationwide.

The Durango Farmers Market began in 1996, and currently hosts over 40 ranchers and farmers. The Market also acts as a small business incubator by giving vendors access to return customers in a downtown location at a low cost, low risk environment. Many local businesses have started at the market.

This year, due to the pandemic, interest in local food has increased dramatically. Local farmers and ranchers have answered the demand and, in some cases, have sold so much product directly, that they have not attended the market. Though this direct food sourcing is the ultimate goal of our local food sustainability, it has resulted in a decrease of the market’s overall budget. Coupled with the need to reduce vendors to food sales only for the months of May and into June, artisan vendors were also not in attendance and further put a strain on the market’s budget.

The market incurred extra expenses to provide sanitation options for customers, increased signage and supplies for the market operations. Nevertheless, it worked closely with local health and city officials to meet all requirements needed to open safely and on time to serve our community’s food needs.