A sunny start for the Farmers’ Market | ParkRecord.com

A sunny start for the Farmers’ Market

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

Sixty-eight degrees and sunny. The vendors at the first Park City Farmers’ Market of the season breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday as they checked out the afternoon forecast.

After all, for the past three years, the opening day has been punctuated by snow flurries.

"This is the best start we’ve ever had," said market manager Volker Ritzinger. Nearly 60 vendors showed up for the inaugural weekly market at The Canyons, among them many who have become staples over the past years and a few with rookie status.

Vendor attendance during the month of June is typically more sporadic than the rest of the summer due to the unreliability of early crops. However, "We’re getting more and more farmers coming early, which is awesome," Ritzinger said.

He has spots for 111 vendors and he expects to fill them by mid-July.

The offerings this year include the usual non-edible fare everything from jewelry and clothing to handmade beauty products and art. On the food side there is a wide array of snacks and produce, including artisan cheese, bread and chocolate; homemade honey, kettle corn and fruit drinks; fish and meat products; and plenty of herbs, fruits and veggies.

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Bonnie Soderborg is the owner of The Underground Kitchen, which specializes in gluten-free and vegan foods. She is starting her second season at the Park City Farmers’ Market and was especially grateful for the mild weather. "A lot of times Park City is so cold for the first day," she said. "Today is gorgeous. It’s been a good start."

High Star Ranch, a new organic farm based in Kamas, is making its debut at the market. Carol Allen explained that thanks to high tunnel and greenhouse farming, they are able to offer produce weeks earlier than farms that grow plants outdoors. The farm sold radishes, carrots, herb starters and other vegetables Wednesday, and Allen said she expects to offer tomatoes, cut flowers and root crops within the month.

Chas Midgley, who has seniority among the vendors after maintaining a presence at the Park City Farmers’ Market for 10 years, said the spring weather was not ideal for getting a head start on the growing season. Still, Chad’s Produce brought about 400 bags of various greens and herbs Wednesday and he said that with a week or two of warm temperatures, the crop will be well underway.

One of the new artists featured at the market this year is Judson Jennings, a University of Utah graduate who sells unique flatware creations. "I couldn’t find a job, so I started welding silverware," he explained.

His collection of "Forked Up Art" features both fun and functional pieces created primarily from forks and spoons. The figurines are designed to hold items like salt and pepper shakers, business cards, napkins and iPhones.

He chose to participate in the farmers’ market because it’s an inexpensive way to get his name out and showcase his wares. "I think farmers markets are a niche," he said. People here appreciate art."

Ritzinger said he expects between 10 and 15 new vendors this year and is currently accepting applications. He used to be more strict about only allowing craft vendors who make their own goods, but he now allows some flea market-type products.

"Since a lot of people are hurting for money, I opened it up a little bit," he said. "It’s up to these kinds of organizations to give people a chance to make money."

He also granted spaces to several local businesses. Winder Farms and Yellow Snow Ice Cream have spots on the perimeter and the food court area features Yuki Arashi and Spencer’s Smokin’ Grill, which recently closed its location on Bonanza Drive.

In a few weeks, the market will offer beer and possibly live music, although Ritzinger said he is going to leave that decision up to the vendors. "Some of them don’t like when the music gets too loud to talk to customers," he explained.

The relationship between the management and the vendors is one of the things that makes the market unique. Ritzinger, who attends 20 markets per week, makes an extra effort to open lines of communication.

He said he represents the only market in the state that physically inspects farms to make sure that they grow their own crops and don’t resell others’ produce. He has been working for the past three months on inspections, paperwork and insurance. Now that the market is open, the workload will increase, but the fun part has just begun.

The Farmers’ Market at The Canyons will be held every Wednesday from noon until 6 p.m. through October. Vendors interested in participating in the local farmers’ markets should call 671-1455 or go to http://www.parkcityfarmersmarket.com .