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Farmers markets celebrated across state, nation

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Local foods are being celebrated nationally and in New Mexico this month, and the Roswell Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Market will join in with family-oriented events.

The first week in August is National Farmers Market Week. In addition, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a proclamation naming August as Local Food Connects NM Month, highlighting the benefits to the economy, food producers and health of consumers from buying local food.

The local market, sponsored by MainStreet Roswell, brings local producers and crafters to the community each Saturday on the Chaves County Courthouse lawn selling baked goods, produce, grass-fed beef and handmade arts and crafts, among other items. The market opened July 7 and will continue through Oct. 9.

“We try to keep it pretty local because we have other farmers markets in other areas. We cover the Hondo Valley. It’s about time for them to start bringing in their pears and apples and peaches. And, of course, we have lots of pecans, homegrown pecans,” Market Director Peggy Seskey said.

This year, the farmers market has attracted more vendors and more customers, Seskey said.

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“We’ve got over 50 vendors, and probably every week since the market started I’ve had three or four new ones call to join,” Seskey said.

“We may not have the same 50 every week because they have to go home and restock or remake whatever they’re doing, but we have had a good turnout. The public is just very pleased with the market this year,” she said.

“The market is larger and I see more people out. We’re pretty excited about that,” said Juliana Halvorson, president of MainStreet Roswell’s board of directors. “We just think it’s great that people are out and we’re glad to see so many vendors. And so much produce. There’s so much fresh produce every Saturday.”

Seskey said she is working on some special events to add to the market to celebrate National Farmers Market Week and the governor’s proclamation. Details will be announced later.

Each Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. the market offers not only the vendors, but also free crafts for children, free water for patrons and local artist Phillip Skeen doing live portrait drawings.

Live music from local performers, including the Roswell Flute Ensemble, are also part of the weekly event, Seskey said.

The bounty basket raffle has been popular this year, Halvorson and MainStreet Roswell executive director Marie Manning said.

“This year the bounty basket raffle has been overflowing with donated items from all of our wonderful vendors,” Manning said.

Each week the collected items are raffled off with tickets at $1 each or six for $5.

“That money goes directly to the farmers market for MainStreet Roswell to help buy more baskets,” Halvorson said.

This year, the Roswell Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Market is competing for cash prizes in a contest, America’s Farmers Market Celebration by the American Farmland Trust. The top three vote-getters in the overall People’s Choice contest will get $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third place.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Roswell market had 237 votes, placing it 23rd nationwide, first in New Mexico and third in the Southwest, according to the website.

Halvorson said if MainStreet wins any prize money, it will likely be used to promote the market and purchase more baskets for the bounty basket drawings.

“At this point, the only way we promote the market is just word of mouth and mostly Facebook and Instagram. We have posters up, of course, but it would be neat if we can do paid promotions,” she said.

The market also tries to bring in community service events, Seskey said. Free COVID-19 vaccines were recently offered and will be again on Aug. 21, and the market will be collecting bottle caps to turn in for more recycled plastic benches.

“We’ll probably try to have a sorting day at the market for the kids and anybody else that wants to help,” Seskey said of the bottle caps.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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