While there’s no longer a Moab Farmers Market, at least for now, you can still buy fresh, locally-grown produce directly from the farmer through the Produce Stand Collective, which meets at the Youth Garden Project patio, 530 S. 400 East, on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Last fall, Castle Valley Farms approached the Youth Garden Project, a nonprofit that offers garden classroom field trips for local schoolchildren, about selling its produce at the garden’s property. Community members were “enthusiastic” about the availability of Castle Valley Farms produce, Youth Garden Project Farm Manager Gabriel Woytek said.
“We opened up our space for them to do that,” Woytek said. “When it became clear that the Moab Farmers Market was going on a hiatus we realized that (local food) is an important community asset.” The realization spurred the Youth Garden Project to open its space to other growers as well.
The Southeast Utah Health Department made the decision to no longer host the Moab Farmers Market primarily due to the sporadic and dwindling numbers of produce vendors attending each week, said Orion Rogers, environmental health director for the Southeast Utah Health Department.
Since Castle Valley Farms and Youth Garden Project (YGP) each began selling their early seasonal crops this spring, Greenfire Gardens and Easy Bee Farm also began peddling produce at the site, Woytek said. There is no fee for farmers who set up a produce stand.
“There’s an invitation to other local growers,” to join the collective, Woytek said. “We’re using the momentum that Castle Valley Farms started to keep the idea alive to provide access to local produce. We have a scarcity of local growers. We want emerging farms to have an outlet for farm-direct sales.”
Due to limited capacity, the space is open to food growers only.
“Some vendors will have added-value products, but it will be from food that they grow,” Woytek said. For example, Castle Valley Farms will also be making and selling its carrot hot dogs, Woytek said.
The carrots are marinated for a couple of days and are served on a bun with vegan chili, sauerkraut, grilled onions, and ketchup and mustard, said Castle Valley Farms Assistant Farmer Thom Mayer. They taste like traditional non-vegan hot dogs, Mayer said.
At a recent produce stand, Mayer offered a new twist on the carrot hot dog: a corn dog made with an organic corn masa/cornbread mix and cooked on a waffle iron. Mayer said he sold a lot of corn dogs that evening. Castle Valley Farms additionally offers a side salad of microgreens and radishes.
“So, there will be a hot dinner option,” Woytek said. “It’s a nice atmosphere to come have a healthy meal.”
And, with the YGP’s commercial kitchen on the premises, Woytek said he hopes to offer other prepared foods.
Although he’s “not making any promises,” Woytek said he hopes to make a Salvadoran dish called pupusas, a simple, stuffed-corn tortilla filled with fresh garden produce, as well as cheese, most likely.
“I’ll be able to make it to order to suit anybody’s dietary restrictions,” he said.
For weeks, Castle Valley Farms has been selling numerous greens, including kale, spinach and salad mixes. The farm has also had asparagus, cilantro, basil and rainbow chard. Tomatoes and cucumbers are about to ripen any day, Mayer said. And later, there will be zucchinis, pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra and both sweet and hot peppers.
Castle Valley Farms is a 320-acre property northeast of Moab, operated by DayStar Adventist Academy. Students learn practical skills in growing and harvesting organic foods. In September, the Produce Stand Collective will be open on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7 p.m.