Imagine buying your radishes and carrots and some apples and berries at a market located at St. Francis of Assisi Park. A park with that name should bring you good karma, huh? Where is this park located? It's in Cuba, New Mexico (not to be confused with the island nation about 90 miles from Key West, Florida). If you live in our state, chances are you know the approximate location of the village of Cuba, which is a small community of about 740 residents, just north of Santa Fe and Los Alamos.
The Cuba Farmers Market (CFM) is one of about 75 sites in New Mexico where growers sell locally grown fresh produce. The means New Mexicans from Raton to Farmington to Silver City to Santa Fe to Albuquerque to Las Cruces to Portales (and points in between) have access to fresh fruits and vegetables during the late spring, summer, and early fall. Some of the markets in the southern end of the state are open through the late fall. The Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market sells fruits and vegetables (in season,of course) year round. And at the University of New Mexico,, the Lobo Growers Market offers produce for sale every Wednesday during the fall semester. Most of the markets are open on Saturdays and use a park or a public space, although Santa Fe has a permanent site making it a convenient place to gather for a rally).
|The offerings in mid-May included radishes|
So with all these growers markets around, why am highlighting the one in Cuba? Three reasons:
1. I have never written a post about Cuba, located at the northern end of the Jemez Mountains.
2. A nutritionist friend of mine who does some of her fieldwork in Cuba mentioned the growers market is an important part of her work.
3. They have a Facebook page.
I could have easily highlighted any of the other 70-plus markets, but it's Cuba's turn. And I am not the first to write about this market. The Albuquerque based weekly newspaper The Alibi published a great article in 2011.
As growers markets go, the CFM is among the youngest. The market started in 2010 as part of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Cuba project, funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant and administered by the University of New Mexico. The project’s goal is to improve the area’s public health through increased access to healthy food and exercise.
The produce sold at the market, which is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m until Noon from May 18 through the end of October, is grown within a 40-mile radius of Cuba, and offerings change weekly along with the seasons. So, i f you live in or near Cuba, this is the place to be on Saturday mornings. "It is a great place to shop for and learn about fresh fruits and vegetables, get great tips and recipes straight from your grower and meet up with friends old and new," say organizers.
Growers markets come in all sorts of sizes. The ones in small communities like Cuba have only a handful of stalls. But others in the major metropolitan areas of Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe have a wide range of offerings from the area farmers. Regardless of size, they all have one thing in common: they all receive support from the New Mexico Farmers Markets Association. Each market (at least those that are held on Saturday or Sunday) strives to make your shopping an enjoyable experience by offering entertainment, a venue to socialize and perhaps a place to grab an authentic New Mexico breakfast burrito. Oh, and did I mention the bright colors and the enticing smells that greet you at each stall?