COLUMN: Happy holidays from Valley Food Partnership

The Montrose Farmers’ Market.

As the summer season draws to a close, the Montrose Farmers Market is still open for the chilly weather. Jenn Mueller wakes up early on Saturdays, bracing the crisp morning air just before the sun rises, and sets up her tent and stand at the market. If you’ve ever shopped with Yurtstead Farms, you’ll know the magic of Jenn’s green thumb.

Blushing red tomatoes, lush salad greens, vibrant radishes and more varieties of potatoes than you’d know what to do with. But what you may not know is that Jenn wasn’t always a farmer. For years, Jenn was an archeologist in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, uncovering stories of the lives that came before us, and what she noticed was how history can be predictable. A key to a successful society is a diverse and sustainable food system, but with industrialization of agriculture, our nation has largely lost that network; for example, most of the Midwest’s food comes from California, rather than their regional agriculture. Jenn felt an obligation to contribute to her local food system.

Since 2015, Jenn has managed Yurtstead Farm and has been a busy vendor at our market. She has also been a participating producer with our Double Up Food Bucks program, which matches SNAP dollars to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. In her words? “It’s the best imaginable way to feed my community that needs it the most.”

The Montrose Farmers’ Market is the only year-round market on the Western Slope, and after 42 years we’re still serving our community fresh, local produce, and goods. Shop local this holiday season, with a wide selection of artisan crafts such as Winter Moon Gifts, Kim and Camile’s handmade glass jewelry, Reiki Ramona, Jagged Edge Sports and even more to explore. Get all you need for holiday meals; we offer seasonal produce, wide selection of meats, spices, jams, coffee, tea and sweets. Times and dates for markets are as followed:

Holiday market: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Centennial Plaza and South 1st St.

• Nov. 21

• Dec. 5

• Dec 12

• Dec 19

Winter market: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Centennial Meeting Room (every other weekend, dates below)

• Jan. 9

• Jan. 23

• Feb. 6

• Feb. 20

• March 6

• March 20

• April 3

• April 17

SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks service are still available at the manager’s table. Bring your EBT card and double your dollars to spend on fresh fruits and veggies. Curbside service is also available for our holiday and winter market with a seasonal selection of produce and market goods at a $20 value. For example, a bag may include salad greens, winter squash, carrots, onions, garlic and a loaf of bread. Generally, each bag is filled with seasonal fruits and veggies with an additional market item like jam, dried fruit, honey or baked goods. Customers can pay with cash, card, SNAP/Double Up, or market dollars. Order yours today: (tiny.cc/vfpfoodbox; link can also be found on the Montrose Farmers Market Facebook page).

Valley Food Partnership is also ramping up its Local Pharmacy Rx Program (LFRx) to be a year-round program in 2021. LFRx is a series of free Cooking Matters cooking and nutrition classes for kids and their caregivers along with $360 in vouchers good for buying local fruits and vegetables. This fall we held five virtual Cooking Matters classes in Spanish with seven families from Montrose and Olathe, as well as five virtual classes with Step Up to Life, a school district program helping young adults gain independence. LFRx classes feature everyday cooking skills, budgeting tips, nutritional lessons and the voucher incentive connects families to local producers so they can practice healthy habits, building fruits and vegetables into their diet. Enrollment is open for classes in January, more information and the enrollment form are available in English and Spanish at tiny.cc/LFRxEnroll. As long as COVID precautions are recommended, lessons will be adapted for at-home learning and meal preparation.

During these times, we appreciate our community and look to our neighbors for comfort, inspiration and strength. Let’s do our part this holiday season to support one another; shop local, give often and keep each other safe. We thank all our essential workers and medical staff, and to you, for wearing a mask and keeping Montrose moving. Happy holidays, from Valley Food Partnership.

Sammie Alteri, Food Security Coordinator, Valley Food Partnership, info@valleyfoodpartnership.org. 970-249-0705.

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