Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Ron Warnick
QCS Senior Writer 

Farmers Market to open Saturday


July 7, 2021

File photo

Tucumcari Farmers Market general manager Sandra Groves rings the bell for the opening day of the market in July 2020.

The general manager of the Tucumcari Farmers Market said two recent developments likely will boost the market - the lifting of many coronavirus restrictions on July 1 and a law regarding baked goods that took effect the same day.

The Tucumcari Farmers Market will open its season at 10 a.m. Saturday when Sandra Groves rings the bell under the shade trees at Wailes Park in east Tucumcari.

The market will run each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and each Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. through Oct. 16.

The Tucumcari Farmers Market in 2020 was honored as the Farmers Market of the Year during the annual New Mexico Food & Farms Day and School Nutrition Awards at the Roundhouse rotunda in Santa Fe.

Social distancing, masks and other rules during the COVID-19 pandemic depressed crowd sizes during last year's market. Many of those rules were eased July 1 by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after New Mexico reached a full vaccination rate of 60%.

"Even last year wasn't that bad, considering the restrictions," Groves said, noting crowds were about 150 people each Saturday and roughly comparable to just four years ago.

This year, if weather conditions are good, Groves expects up to 375 to 400 people during the market's opening day.

Groves said she had at least a half-dozen food vendors lined up for Saturday, plus another three craft vendors. In a return to pre-COVID times, she anticipated the market would have a hotdog stand, as well. She said she also is trying to book live entertainment for opening day.

Another development that bodes well for the market is the state's Homemade Food Act, which took effect July 1.

The law removed a New Mexico Environment Department permit requirement that required pages of paperwork and could have required thousands of dollars in kitchen upgrades before a person could sell baked goods.

The new law applies only to the sale of shelf-stable foods such as baked goods, jams, popcorn, dried pasta and roasted coffee beans.

"I'm so thrilled to hear about this new law," Groves said. "It makes it easier for them to sell those."

In season this time of year at the market should be zucchini, sweet corn, summer squash, beets, onions and cucumbers, Groves said, though a heat wave in June and grasshoppers were making it tougher for local growers.

"The farmers are doing the best they can, trying to keep everything going," she said.

Customers can use food stamps, WIC cards and Double Up Food Bucks at the market, Groves said.

Those who are interesting in setting up a stand at the market should call Groves at (575) 461-8499.


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