The Santa Fe Farmers Market kicks off its Southside location again this summer with a presence at the Santa Fe Place Mall on Tuesday nights, between July 5 and at least Sept. 27 (longer if the weather holds). From kids dance performances to photo exhibitions and mariachi, there’s more to do than just buy vegetables—although that’s certainly intended as the leading event. The market runs from 3 to 6 pm, and market director Lani Ersfeld says music, cooking demonstrations and other extras will happen every week.
What is the benefit of shopping at the Tuesday Southside market versus the one in the Railyard?
The Southside farmers market is a wonderful little market. It sort of resembles a lot more of the grassroots market that our Railyard market started as. It’s held in a parking lot, so of course, parking is never an issue. It’s absolutely a different location in town, and frankly we feel there’s a huge need on that side of town, especially because it is a known food desert down there, and so that is why we feel really passionate about keeping that farmers market going and keeping it as vibrant as we possibly can. More than being a market, we try to make it a sort of a hub for resources. So not only will you be able to get fresh produce, but you’ll be able to get a free health screening with the mobile county health van, you’ll be able to learn how to cook the things you are buying that day, because we have free cooking demonstrations and sampling with a nutritionist every week. We always have music. We try to have a lot of fun things going on, and we just try and make it a really great market.
What are your favorite things to buy at the market?
Absolutely the zucchini. The season of the Southside market is one of the highest zucchini times of the year. You can make calabacitas and enchiladas and make all those fresh things, but then I love to freeze it and make zucchini bread all the winter long as well and make little treats with it. A lot of the stuff that is high season, you can get and freeze and be able to utilize.
Are you getting more shoppers than previous years?
It’s a huge goal of ours, to create higher numbers of shoppers every year. We are trying to appeal to all the different folks who might want to come down. We have been doing a lot of work with the Santa Fe Community College, and we have been doing hand-fliering in the Tierra Contenta neighborhood. We are trying to appeal to some of those businesses and some of those people who use Cerrillos Road. Our market is going to be on the Cerrillos side of the mall rather than back by the JC Penny, so we hope that will draw more a lot more traffic of people driving by and seeing that we are there. We track very closely our EBT and our WIC dollars that are spent, and our EBT is doubling every year. And our double-up program [that lets SNAP participants double their dollars] has gotten new funding, and now there’s no limit to how much you can double. So that is going to be really incredible for a lot of folks, too.