The Park City Farmer’s Market returns to Canyons
June 5, 2012
Canyons will continue to host the Park City Farmer’s Market for at least another three years.
Volker Ritzinger, owner of Volker’s Bakery and organizer of the Farmer’s Market, said he and Canyons agreed to keep the annual market, which will open today, Wednesday, June 6, in the resort’s cabriolet parking lot, where it has been held since 2002.
"Our initial contract ended last year, but they wanted us to come back this year," Ritzinger said during an interview with The Park Record. "That’s good because the market has a lot to offer."
Ritzinger has run the Farmer’s Market since 2001.
"The idea was to build a market that offered quality food to Park City," he said. "I really don’t care if the cherries are small or big. You know when you go to Costco and see the strawberries that are hybrids and look as big as golf balls, but don’t taste like strawberries? I didn’t want that. We’re not after that. We’re after the small and beautiful stuff that is grown naturally and organically. I wanted the food to be natural."
This year, thanks to a mild spring, the Park City Farmer’s Market will feature produce that usually becomes available two to three weeks after the market opens.
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"This will be the first time we’ll have strawberries and rhubarb the first week of June," he said. "The second week, we may even have cherries."
Farms from throughout the state have approached Ritzinger to participate in the Park City Farmer’s Market.
"We have farmers from Hurricane, Green River and Logan," he said. "When we first started, we had 30 vendors, and now we have more than 80."
Each year, Ritzinger receives an average of 150 applications.
"You have to say no to a few of them, which is always hard, but that’s part of the process.
Ritzinger travels throughout the state and inspects the farms of those who want to be part of the market.
"I have always been a strict inspector," he said. "I go and inspect every farm who comes to our market to see what they’re growing, how they’re growing it and if they use sprays, what kinds of sprays they use. I need to make sure the technology the farmers use will keep the food natural, without using a lot of pesticides, because we want to know what we are offering to Park City.
"If farmers want to come to the market and make money, they have to be open minded when it comes to how they grow food," he said.
The farmers have cooperated with Ritzinger and have opened up their farms to his visits.
"They let me come to their farms for inspection and if you go to my website, (http://www.parkcityfarmersmarket.com ), you can see some pictures of the inspections," he said. "These farms are so cool. When you walk into some of them, you can and see something like eight acres of tomatoes and you wouldn’t ever believe that you were still in Utah."
In 2008, Ritzinger opened the market to include art and clothing.
"I tried to take care of the local people when the economy crashed," he said. "I allowed homemade items and even crafts and let Summit County residents come in with any idea they had to make money so they could hold on to their houses and what not.
"So, today, those people can basically bring anything they make to sell if it will help them make money to help their family," he said.
Ritzinger has also made it his business to listen to what his customers have to say.
"People will tell me what they want to see and buy and I have to keep my mind open to see how I can include those things," he said.
Next month the market will bring back live-music performances, as it has done for the past five years.
"We book live acts in July and August, when the market is a little busier, to give the people something to hear and watch while they shop," Ritzinger said.
Although Ritzinger is known for his year-round business, Volker’s Bakery in Kamas, he enjoys presenting the Farmer’s Market.
"It’s all hard work, but I like it when people come up to me and tell me I’m doing a good job with the Farmer’s Market," he said. "It’s a full time job for me in the summer, and I’m lucky that I have good people running my bakery. That’s why I am able to put so much energy into it."
Unlike other farmer’s markets in Utah, Park City’s doesn’t have a definitive closing date.
"I go by what the farmers tell me," Ritzinger said. "A lot of markets end when the farmers still have stuff to sell. I’m open until they can’t sell anymore.
"When they say they are completely out of food or that the frost has hit, that’s when we put on our last market," he said. "That way they can always count on us to sell their last apple, rather than give it away wholesale."
The Park City Farmer’s Market will open for the summer on Wednesday, June 6, at Canyons cabriolet parking lot, at Canyon Resort Drive and S.R. 224. The market will be open Wednesdays from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://parkcityfarmersmarket.com/