By Eric Heinz
Focus Points Family Resource Center is getting ready to host its farmers market, which will take place on Fridays beginning June 9 and running through Oct. 27.
The market is a way to assist families in the area by providing them with locally grown produce through Focus Points’ Huerta Urbana program.
“The way that our market works is it’s a paywhat- you-can farmers market,” said Karen Bustillos, the Huerta Urbana specialist at Focus Points. “With donations and grants, we are able to cover the first $20 for each family to be able to purchase produce that they might need. So it’s a little bit of support for the families here.”
What remains to be paid for to the farmers and vendors is covered with “market bucks,” where customers can make a donation to support a family facing food insecurity. The market is also now able to accept WIC and SNAP. Grant funding and donations also cover the costs.
“At the end of the market, they (the vendors) report out how many market bucks they received from families, and then we will refund them for that with actual money,” Bustillos said.
Making up the farmers market are 15 different vendors as well as produce provided by the 1-acre Huerta Urbana farm. Several of the vendors are farmers and the rest are different food producers and artists, Bustillos said. In past years, the farmers market has supplied between 180 to 200 families each week.
Last year, Huerta Urbana was able to produce about 400 pounds of produce from its campus farm. The market began in 2020 and moved around a couple times before landing at the permanent spot at the Focus Points campus at 2501 E. 48th Ave. East Denver Food Hub has also helped out with the market.
“We do a call for vendors and people can apply, and then after they apply we vet them to make sure that there’s a balance in the market,” said Seynabou Sohai, the senior manager of social enterprise at Focus Points. “We make sure they are local, make sure they’re growing what they sell, creating what they sell, just to make sure that it’s meeting our mission points at the market of supporting local small businesses.”
Sohai said Focus Points doesn’t charge a booth fee for the vendors.
“That is sometimes a barrier for small business, to be able to afford those fees, so we waive those,” Sohai said. Huerta Urbana also has a program for young children to learn healthy cooking and nutrition, as well as instruction on food literacy and sampling of fruits and vegetables.
LIST OF VENDORS CONFIRMED FOR THE FARMERS MARKET • SustainEd • Huerta Urbana • East Denver Food Hub • Bruce Randolph Hydroponic Farms • S&D Creations • Compost Colorado • Rebel Bread • The Tortilla Project • Sohai Farms • Alvarez’s Desserts
COMMUNITY (ONLY FOR OPENING DAY) • CSU Spur/Denver Dumb Friends League • Denver Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) Program • Focus Points Family Support Services for SNAP benefits and to answer any questions • Bounty Box (children through age 5 living in 80216 ZIP code will receive a free bounty box full of enough veggies and pantry items for a week) • Sprouts and Blossoms (children-focused booth)
OTHER VENDORS TO JOIN • Comal Heritage Food Incubator • Cempaxochilt Arts
More information can be found at focuspoints. org/hufm/.
SAVE THE DATE
The Huerta Urbana Farmers Market annual dinner is scheduled for Sept. 22. There will be a variety of activities, farm tours, a pumpkin patch and a celebration of the graduates from the Huerta Urbana educational program.