The weekly farmers market brings a splash of life and color each Wednesday to the parking lot at the Aspen Grove Lifestyle Center.
The annual event kicked off summer 2012 on June 13, with some 35 vendors plying an eclectic collection of loosely defined local goods, including coffee beans, bread, Alaskan salmon, rock art, dog leashes and fabric bags. Stands offered Colorado-grown fresh cherries, apricots and other produce. The farmers market, which continues through October, is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The bazaar attracted a low-key crowd of about 100 people from about 10 to 11 a.m., making a pleasant uncrowded experience for a hot summer day. There was plenty of opportunity to chat at length with friendly merchants.
As is typical with farmers markets these days, the farmers were in the minority among the vendors, but there was enough to satisfy the average locavore.
In addition to fresh fruit, attendees could browse flower baskets, turquoise jewelry, baby clothes, low-glycemic candy, local wine, Jamaican barbecue sauce and Bavarian sausage along the tent-lined aisle.
Jessi Ouri, who lives near Southwest Plaza, shops three or four markets in a weekend and comes to Aspen Grove on a regular basis during the week.
"It's better for the economy. It's fresher food. It's not being shipped from someplace else I don't know," she said.
Ouri came to the Littleton market because she heard that Greg Brock of Wild Alaskan Seafood had a shipment of white salmon for sale. "It tastes amazing," Ouri says. "My husband loves it."
Brock works exclusively with independent, local Alaskan fishermen with whom he has personal relationships. He says his fish is fresher and superior to the corporate fisheries' typical fare.
The fish is caught, vacuum packed, frozen and flown to Colorado several times a week, he said. Brock or his associates are at five markets during a typical weekend.
Ouri is also a regular at the Forte Farms stand here, which brings fresh produce from a farm near Palisade and distributes to 12 other markets as well. On Wednesday, sales manager Dan Gilbert was urging people to taste the cherries, which were about three weeks early this year.
He said about half of the Western Slope cherry crop was lost in a late freeze this year. Peaches will be arriving in about a week, and plums in about three weeks. Soon buyers can look forward to cantaloupe, corn and green beans.
Farmers markets are a good place to find fun, offbeat items like the rock art at Susan Hobson's tent. The pieces are made in Taos, N.M., by Hobson's sister. Prices range from $10 to $300. Along with her partner, Tim Cumminskey, Hobbs is at various markets around Denver all summer, but she likes the Aspen Grove market best.
"This is the nicest," she said. "The management does a phenomenal job. They are so much easier to get along with."
Contact Vicky Gits at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.