Real fruit flavors 

With local watermelon almost grown, farmers' markets approach their peak

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Joe Mauro stands behind a table covered with small baskets of green beans, vine-ripened tomatoes and pungent peppers from Vic Mauro Farms.

Nearby, the Peaches & Cream corn on the cob is piled high for customers at Memorial Park's Thursday market. A small group of women may be considering the produce, but it's really Joe who commands their attention.

"Yeah, I know the Bushes," he says to his audience.

As if on cue, his cell phone rings. "Oh," he says. "This is Laura now."

He turns away for a minute before saying, "She says it's raining at the White House."

Everyone laughs.

"That's Joe," says Judy Neveu.

Neveu and her mother, Marie Johnson, have been attending farmers markets for at least 15 years which amounts to about half the time the markets have been running in the Pikes Peak area. And each year, August brings the most of what people like Neveu and Johnson really want.

"We're within a couple of weeks of having everything be from Colorado," says Old Colorado City market master Frank Schmidt. "The corn is now Colorado, the cantaloupe is coming out of Rocky Ford. The watermelon is the last to come in. Then we'll pretty much be all Colorado."

In all, the Old Colorado City market has about 27 vendors, says Schmidt. He's been around long enough to remember when the original market was in front of what was then the old El Paso County Courthouse (now the Pioneers Museum). And he says that an increasingly discriminating market has helped local farmers.

"People are so much more aware of where the food is from," he says. "They know that a lot of food that is imported is not inspected, and they know of the problems that causes. People want local, American produce. I think that is kind of driving things right now.

"They also like being able to talk to the farmer," he adds. "They can talk to whoever raises or makes the products. Freshness is a big part of it. It cuts out the middleman."

Joe Miller, of Miller Farms in Platteville, says his family has been farming since 1949. They started selling produce at farmers' markets in 1980.

"We started out with a pickup truck," he says. "Now we have enough trucks to do 32 markets a week, all up and down the Front Range. People like the farmers' markets because everything is fresh. It's that simple. For some markets, we can pick the corn in the morning and go sell it that day. People like that."

For information on more than 90 farmers' markets, visit ag.state.co.us/mkt/farmfresh/farmersmarkets.html.


Area farmers' markets


Memorial Park, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., through Oct. 1

Fountain City Hall, 116 S. Main St., 4-8 p.m., through September

Colorado Farm and Art Market Cooperative, America the Beautiful Park, 4-8 p.m., through Oct. 3

Manitou Springs Midweek Market, Soda Springs Park, 4-8 p.m., through Aug. 29

Venetucci Farm, 5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85/87, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., well into October


Memorial Park, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Oct. 4

Venetucci Farm, 5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85/87, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., well into October


Venetucci Farm, 5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85/87, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., well into October

Woodland Park Street Market, Henrietta Avenue, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Sept. 14


Colorado Farm and Art Market Cooperative, Pine Creek Village Shopping Center (northeast corner of Briargate Parkway and Chapel Hills Drive), 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Oct. 6

Doherty High School, 4515 Barnes Road, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Sept. 29

Monument, Second Street between Adams and Jefferson streets, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Oct. 13

Old Colorado City, West Colorado Avenue and 24th Street, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Oct. 27

Venetucci Farm, 5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85/87, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., well into October


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