New Mexico’s Farmers’ Markets



New Mexico’s farmers’ markets are bustling centers of commerce and conversation where residents buy fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, dairy products, meats and locally-made food products directly from the farmers.

While every market has its own hours and days of operation throughout the growing season, and some offer fresh and prepared food items year round, all of them have enthusiastic farmers who enjoy selling the fruits of their labor directly to consumers.

“Before we plant in the spring, we think about what the people we are serving want to eat,” explained Eli Burg, who is the co-head farmer at Albuquerque’s Chispas Farms with Amanda Mione. “We want to cater to them, but we also want to expand their palettes. Our goal is to grow things that pop when they are on the table. Color, as well as taste, is important to us.”

Chispas Farms is among 70 farms that sell their produce at Albuquerque Downtown Market, which is one of 14 farmers’ markets in the Albuquerque area and among the 60+ markets statewide. Burg and Mione specialize in growing heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables on the three-acre farm. They cultivate 50 different varieties of garlic as well as multiple kinds of tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, potatoes and carrots. Turnip-lovers can find scarlet red, pure white and white with purple varieties at their stall.

“We grow a lot of what I call ‘workhorse’ varieties that we know people like,” Burg added. “We also adopt new varieties. We’ve been growing purple carrots for the past eight years. Traditionally, orange ones have the highest sugar content, but our purple carrots are sweet.”

The Albuquerque Downtown Market, which is located in Robinson Park at the intersection of 8th Street and Central, is run by the private, non-profit organization Downtown Action Team. Farmers from Dixon to Roswell make the trek to this market every Saturday morning from late May through the end of October to sell their produce. During the height of the summer growing season, more than 3,000 people wander through Robinson Park to stock up on fresh food.

Albuquerque Downtown Growers’ Market

“Gross sales at the market for 2011 was around $450,000,” said Christopher Goblet, the deputy director of the Downtown Action Team. “Local food is in demand.”

Responding to the growing demand for locally-produced food, the Downtown Action Team leased half an acre of city-owned land located at the corner of Silver and 2nd Street and established Alvarado Urban Farm in 2011.

“We have 4,400 square feet of growing space with 70 beds,” Goblet explained. “We’ll be selling produce from it during the 2012 summer market season. Eventually, we’d like to build a grocery store on the site and move the farm to the roof of the building.”

While the Albuquerque Downtown Market operates seasonally, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is open year round. According to the market’s interim director Bryan Adams, it is the oldest market in the state and has the largest number of farmers, ranchers and dairy vendors. Of the market’s 113 stalls, around 90 of them contain fresh food vendors. Gross sales during 2011 exceeded $2.5 million.

Located at 1607 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe’s Railyard district, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market has both indoor and outdoor spaces for vendors. The spacious Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Pavilion, which was completed in 2008, keeps vendors toasty warm during the cold winter months.

An important component of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is the volunteer program, which matches farmers with community members who are willing to lend a hand at no charge.

“Tom and I couldn’t do our farm without help from volunteers,” said Mary Dixon, who runs Green Tractor Farm in La Cienega with her husband Tom Dixon. “We had four volunteers working in the fields and preparing vegetables for market last summer. Besides providing invaluable help, they make all the hard work more fun.”

Arts and crafts vendors represent a small percentage of the total number of vendors at most of the state’s farmers’ markets, but they reign supreme at the Las Cruces Farmers’ & Crafts Market at the Downtown Mall on Main Street in Las Cruces.

Of the approximately 230 vendors who sell goods during the summer months, half of them bring leather work, hand painted tiles, ceramics, weaving, wrought iron work and other handmade items to the market.

Santa Fe Farmer's Market

The market takes place year round every Wednesday and Saturday morning, but it’s the Saturday market that is really hopping. Manager Eric Montgomery said the market’s annual gross sales totals approximately $1 million.

“For some of our arts and crafts vendors, this is their only source of income,” he added. “For other vendors, it’s important additional revenue.”

Sections of Main Street in Las Cruces are closed to vehicle traffic on Saturday and Wednesday mornings so visitors can easily amble from stall to stall. On a holiday weekend in the summer, the market draws more than 4,000 shoppers.

“Since El Paso does not have a strong farmers’ market, we attract a lot of visitors from the El Paso area,” he added. “The Las Cruces Farmers’ & Crafts Market has become a cultural event for Las Cruces.”





While fresh food and arts and crafts are the main draws to the state’s farmers’ markets, many of them offer free entertainment.

“Doña Ana County residents of all ages provide entertainment at our market,” said Montgomery. “One week we’ll have a kids’ string quartet perform, while on another week a group of seniors may be playing folk music. We have everything from mariachi bands to belly dancers.”

Adams plans an entertainment schedule for the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market that features a wide variety of local performers. The Albuquerque Downtown Market also offers weekly musical entertainment as well as special monthly art programs for children.

“Our market is truly based in the community,” said Goblet. “People come to the market not only to shop for local food but as a Saturday morning family outing. They buy breakfast burritos from local food vendors, sit under the park’s old cottonwood trees and enjoy the music.”

Burg, who was a customer of the Albuquerque Downtown Market before he began selling food there, has always viewed farmers’ markets as gathering places for community members.

“The community feeling is one of the best things about the farmers’ markets,” he said. “I have loyal customers I see every week during the growing season. We get to know each other. I’m constantly talking with people about how to cook different vegetables. I never thought I’d be speaking so much when I decided to become a farmer. Selling at the Albuquerque Downtown Market is like performing in a recital after working hard in the fields all week.”

For more information about each of the state’s farmers’ markets, visit

Emily Van Cleve is a Santa Fe-based freelance writer who has contributed feature articles to many local, regional and national publications, including the Albuquerque Journal, Art of the West magazine and others.

Originally appeared in The Collector’s Guide - Volume 26


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