When the City Park Esplanade Fresh Market went dormant last year, Peter Wanberg and his wife Margo realized how much they missed the relationships they’d built up over the previous four years of being vendors there. So the duo organized their own food bazaar in the same location—City Park Farmers Market—to reconnect with other local producers and with the community.
“Our mission, and our passion, is to champion local food producers,” says Peter, who also owns Jubilee Roasting Co. (Margo is a co-founder of 3 Sisters Honey). “The biggest differentiator between our market and others is our focus on food and food-related vendors. Only a handful of the market’s more than 60 vendors are offering non-consumable products, but they’re still very closely tied to local agriculture.”
Some of the vendors in the carefully curated lineup of Colorado-based businesses, he adds, are fresh startups that are participating in a market for the very first time, including Pandemic Donuts and 3rd Bird Kombucha. Others are past market favorites like Ela Family Farms, Rebel Bread, and Yummy Lotus Jams.
“We hope the people who come to the market can really get to know these farmers and ranchers and the passionate people behind some of the exciting new food startups, like we have,” Peter says. “Not only do they have fascinating stories to tell, but the community will really get to know the faces behind the hyper-local products they’re buying.”
The market opens for the season at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 15. Although we know you’ll find delights around every corner, don’t miss these six highlights:
Fresh Milk and Cheese from Five Freedoms Dairy
At Five Freedoms Dairy in Galeton, northeast of Greeley, the focus has always been on the welfare and enrichment of the farm’s cows and calves. “Simply put, our cows are treated like the intelligent, gentle creatures they are, animals that so nobly share their milk with us,” says veterinarian-turned-dairyman Kevin McSweeney.
Stop by to chat with McSweeney about his happy cows as you shop for fresh milk, strained yogurts (Skyr and Greek), and scrumptious cheeses like full-fat ricotta and fresh mozzarella.
Wine-Spirit Fusions from Atōst
Cindy and Kyle Pressman paired their respective loves for wine and spirits to create their own line of bottled “American aperitivi,” which perfectly marry fine wine with the potency of craft spirits. Chardonnay from the couple’s Golden winery is expertly blended with premium grape spirit, herbs, and botanicals—resulting in light (they’re low in sugar and grain and gluten free), flavorful, ready-to-drink creations. For the ultimate summertime refreshment, try Citrus, a liquor featuring fresh lemons and orange juices and just a hint of vanilla; it’s perfect over ice or paired with bubbles.
Bjorn’s Colorado Honey’s Newest Flavor
Be one of the very first to try Bjorn’s lemon honey, debuting at the market on May 15. “Lemon and honey are a wonderful match,” says Lara Boudreaux, who co-owns the Boulder-based company with her husband Pontus, a beekeeper. “The sweetness of our honey is perfectly balanced by the lemon zest oil that we use. It tastes like lemon drop candies.”
At the Bjorn’s stall, you’ll also find company mainstays like CBD honey, Immunity-Booster (made with turmeric and ginger), whipped honey, and a full line of bee-based health and skincare products.
Crazy-Good Sweet Treats from Pandemic Donuts
In 2020, pastry chef Gabrielle Henning and coffee industry veteran Michael Milton turned their pandemic-related job losses into something sweet—Pandemic Donuts, a gourmet doughnut pickup and delivery service in Denver. At the farmers’ market, look for creative flavors like mango poppyseed, Key Lime pie, Earl Grey and honey, and blueberry and lavender, all decorated so beautifully that they almost look like little round works of art. As a bonus, the shop sells gluten-free varieties, too.
Organic, Low-Sugar Beverages from 3rd Bird Kombucha
Sara Lemmon hatched 3rd Bird as a way to make the world a bit kinder for her son. “Using my science background, I sought out to brew simply delicious kombucha that wasn’t too tart nor too sweet, to help lessen his GI and sensory-processing issues stemming from autism,” she says.
Lemmon’s all-organic, low-sugar fermented beverages contain many ingredients that she grows in her Park Hill garden. Shop for offerings like pear lavender, raspberry elderflower, and strawberry basil, and stay tuned for an exciting announcement: “We’re working on a collaboration with another vendor at the market to create a special market-only flavor,” she says.
Fresh Fruits and Veggies from Local Family Farms
Jade Sato, owner of Minoru Farm in Brighton, only began selling directly to consumers in 2020. Although she was terrified about starting her business in the middle of a pandemic, she says the incredible support from the community encouraged her to keep producing the lesser-known varieties of Asian vegetables the farm is known for.
At the market, she’ll be showcasing produce that “people may have never seen or tasted before,” including Okinawan white bitter melon (a gourd used in many types of Asian cuisine). “I like encouraging people to be brave and try new things,” she says.
Jamie Nash and Dane Olsen, co-owners of Owl Canyon Farm, are excited about the new market’s focus on local food producers and plan to offer early season greens, like lettuce and kale, and pasture-raised chicken and eggs.
“There’s a huge benefit to buying local food, not only for the consumer but for the environment,” says Olsen. “The food is nutrient dense and much higher quality since it’s often picked right before it’s brought to market.”
Bonus: Denver’s Big Power Yoga offers a donation-based yoga practice at the market every week beginning at 9 a.m.. Tuck your mat into your market shopping bag so you can settle in for some guided pose work and gentle stretching before browsing the vendor booths.
Find more City Park Farmers Market vendors here.
The new market runs from 8 a.m.–1 p.m. every Saturday, May 15 through October 30, at 2551 E. Colfax Ave. (across from East High School)