2021 Recap & Goals For This Season
Questa Farmers Market (QFM) will open Sunday, May 29 to begin the 2022 season.
This will be our sixth official year in operation!
Questa Farmers Market projects are inspired by community input. The program as a whole has grown each season through this input and reflection. We organize around three core initiatives supporting tradition, adaptation, and resilience.
Creating a hub for regenerating the local food economy by supporting growers, craftspeople, and customers.
Caring for an inviting physical space for vendors and customers, thus supporting community connection.
Offering paid youth internships; work-based learning, mentorship and skill development focused on local farm-to-market economics.
The market, held every Sunday, from the end of May to early October, operates on a central downtown Questa site, adjacent to the Questa Visitor Center, owned by the Questa Economic Development Fund (QEDF). Over five years, we have established a landscape that can be navigated by a few hundred people, created gardens, vendor shelters, an horno, a dance floor, electrified the shelters and music booth, and started a mural project. These improvements were made possible through the financial support of the QEDF and the LOR Foundation and many hours (both paid and donated) by community members and volunteers.
The Economic Impact
At each market, for 19 consecutive Sundays, neighbors support each other by buying products from their local farmers, gardeners, bakers, and craftspeople. This hub is also a bright stopping place for visitors to our community. Our efforts are creating a shared source of community wealth that cannot be measured, as well as economic value that we can measure and share in this report.
We track the financial impact of the market each year. Last season (2021), on average, there were nine vendors each Sunday with an average attendance of 165 customers. Collectively, our vendors earned $40,825 in 2021 compared to $19,425 in 2020, a huge increase. This is money that stayed local through our community members investing in one another. When we invest locally, we benefit households in and around northern Taos County, strengthening our local roots, and building communal ties, rather than benefiting large corporations.
The 2021 total of $40,825 breaks down into three categories:
- $20,475 in Raw Agricultural Products (fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and honey),
- $13,362 in Produced Food (hot food, baked goods, processed farm products like pickles, preserves, and pesto)$6,988 in Art and Craft (handmade items).
- Local Partnerships in 2021
In addition to organizing the Sunday market, our program worked in partnership with the North Central Food Pantry (NCFP, ncfpquesta.com), helping coordinate the purchase and transport of local food, with NCFP funding. This partnership began in 2020 when supply lines were first disrupted by COVID-19. This investment in local growers means that together we are making our agricultural community stronger. We intend to continue this work in 2022 by coordinating the supply of food from local growers to NCFP clients. We are seeking grant funding to help purchase food from local growers and donate this produce.
Music every Sunday makes the market lively and supports local musicians. Our vendors’ fees sponsor musicians, but these fees are kept to a minimum and are supplemented by grant funding and partnerships. A Questa Creative Council partnership in 2021 (questacreative.org) helped us to pay local musicians. We are grateful to this local arts and culture nonprofit.
Our paid Youth Internship Program was supported by The Red Willow Center of Taos Pueblo (facebook.com/RWCTaosPueblo) along with a portion of our vendors’ fees and the tireless input of our market volunteers and coordinators. With this collective support, youth were able to be involved in growing and caring for the market gardens, starting a coffee booth, and cooking in the horno, as well as collecting food from local growers for distribution through the NCFP system.
Paid Interns and Volunteers
We believe that establishing roles and employment for youth makes the QFM program sustainable and dynamic. We prosper through intergenerational community work by sharing, learning, and building together. Our previous seasons have shown that employment for youth through QFM internships is key—we are committed to continuing these paid internships. For the upcoming season our Youth Internship program will benefit from LANL Foundation support through an Education Enrichment Grant to deepen this work over the next two years, which will make the 2022 season an exciting one! To learn how to apply for internships, go here: questafarmersmarket.org/blog/internship/.
The 2021 interns and our steadfast volunteers, Andy and Lorie Jaramillo, extended the garden zones at the market and tended to their thriving all season. Several community volunteers, including Shane Brown and Hae Won Kwon, cared for the gardens as well. LEAP hosted two Community Connection Days (in May and September) beautifying the market site. The collaboratively organized Vida Camp kids and staff helped launch the gardens, and do weeding and planting in May. And visiting volunteers, members of the youth choir from Broadmoor Baptist Church from Shreveport, Louisiana, were in New Mexico for a week in July. They pulled tons of weeds, added a little mud fix to the horno, and cleaned up around the market.
The vegetable and flower gardens provide spaces of experiential education and beauty, ensuring that the marketplace supports vendors and customers, as well as pollinators and traveling butterflies.
Last season, local muralist Rae Lewis, began a mural project on one side of the on-site shipping container, which had been donated by the Questa Credit Union.
The mural engaged the community in a design that allowed all abilities and ages to paint together. The pattern, an abstract quilted landscape of mountains around Questa, was drawn ahead of the painting days and then filled in by painters. The design was inspired by the land, the practice of quilting in our community, and a 1930s photograph of Questa quilters found by Estevan Rael-Galvez in his grandparents’ home next door to the market site. Like a quilt, individual efforts combined to make a beautiful whole.
I’m excited to work alongside Questa community members, and Questa Farmers Market staff and interns to create a pollinator mural at the market site.
I plan to design a mural that involves community input through successive workshops. The mural plan will be fluid enough to accommodate community painters and can adjust to on-site input. Each workshop will focus on a particular stage of the mural painting process. This pollinator-themed mural considers the ecology of Monarch butterflies and milkweed in their relationship, which can be observed here each year. My hope is that through creating and interacting with the mural, our human community will be more tuned in to these beings and their invaluable life cycles.
Once completed, this mural can continue to come alive through posed photographs, when a person stands against it in several spots. For example, a person might strike a pose near the painted wings or appear to hide in the shelter of a leaf.
I look forward to creating this mural in my community with painters of all ages and skills.From muralist Rae Lewis
Rae will continue her design efforts on the reverse side of the container with a pollinator-themed mural. In connection to this mural, an adjacent pollinator garden will be created by our youth interns along with a QFM staff member, whose role will be to support youth in caring for and developing our market gardens. We will again engage community painters of all ages and skills.
Farmers Market Designation & Food Benefit Programs
QFM is focused on building a local market that serves at the appropriate scale, welcoming backyard gardeners and professional growers, people with family orchards, and young, ambitious farmers. We work creatively to accommodate the maximum number and variety of vendors. We can arrange for group tables where multiple small producers’ goods are sold and can arrange pickup at the farms or yards of anyone needing help with transportation.
To be eligible as a farmers market, at least 50% of our vendors need to sell raw farm goods/unprocessed local foods such as fruits, vegetables, honey, eggs, meat. Local means mainly New Mexico grown within 80 miles of the market.
You can find details about becoming a vendor on our website, questafarmersmarket.org/for-vendors/. The remaining percent of our vendors need to be selling local prepared foods (SNAP/EBT eligible) and value-added farm goods, while a very small percent may sell local handmade items like salve, soap, and bouquets. Adhering to these guidelines makes our market eligible to participate in key Food Benefit
The Food Benefit Programs our market participates in include: SNAP/EBT and Double Up Food Bucks, as well as WIC and Senior Nutrition Farm Program Checks.
Apply for SNAP (also called EBT, food stamps) at www.hsd.state.nm.us/lookingforassistance/supplemental_nutrition_assistance_program__snap/ or call (800) 432-6217. If you have SNAP, you will receive Double-Up-Food-Bucks automatically at the market. When you come to the market and take out an amount from your SNAP/EBT card, for example, $20—you’ll get another $20 to spend on local fruits and vegetables. This is how you double your money. This is a food benefit program that Questa Farmers Market, and many other markets and grocery stores participate in: https://www.doubleupnm.org/how-it-works/
Want to receive Senior Nutrition Program Checks to use at your local market? Call (505) 242-6777. Women, Infant, Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) clients, would you like money to spend at your local farmers market? To learn how to participate, go to nmwic.org or call (866) 867-3124.
Local freelance graphic designer Emily Wilde created our logo and we put it on shirts, aprons, and stickers! You can support the QFM Merchandising Program by purchasing our QFM merchandise at the market. If you want gear sooner, email email@example.com, or call or text (575) 224-2102 about these items. We print our shirts and aprons on organic cotton to support healthier environments for farmers farther afield.
New Collaboration for 2022,
Questa Art Market
In 2021, a Saturday Crafts & Collectibles Market was launched at the market site. For 2022, it will be held on Sunday, alongside the farmers market, and it will have a new name! More vendors than last year will be able to participate by sharing the same market day. Art Market vendors are not in the agricultural (local food) category, but are entrepreneurs who are also key to revitalizing our local economic base, so it IS a separate market. This separation allows the QFM to remain eligible for enrollment in state and federal food benefit programs. The Questa Arts Market is for artists, makers, and even folks selling interesting collectibles or oddities. To become a vendor this coming season, contact Lynn Skall at (575) 586-2149.
We are a program of Localogy, www.localogy.org, a nonprofit 501(c)(3); effectively an operational community foundation for our area. Our market seeks to regenerate agriculture in northern Taos County by supporting small land- and home-based businesses, and fostering skills and opportunities for a new generation.
Our program has channeled financial support from the Questa Economic Development Foundation (QEDF), the LOR Foundation, Chevron, the Questa Creative Council, Red Willow Center, the LANL Foundation, and the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association. We have received other support from community organizations; the Questa Credit Union and the Vida del Norte Coalition, LEAP (Land, Experience, and Art of Place), Questa Stories, Rewire Yourself with New Opportunities (RYNO), and Taos Initiative for Life Together (TiLT), as well as the many hours donated each year by community members and volunteers to help accomplish the larger goals of our program and keep the market site beautiful and welcoming.