The season of collecting fresh, locally-grown produce has officially begun with the opening of the Los Lunas Farmers Market and the Bosque Farms Growers Market.
George Torres helped start both markets and is the manager of them.
The Los Lunas Market was not supposed to open until May 17 but a few vendors already had plants to sell, such as tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.
“We said, ‘Hey, we’re here for the public, let’s do it.’ That’s why we’re here, we’re the people bringing the freshest of the fresh,” Torres said.
Something the markets prioritize is making the fresh produce available to community members in need. According to their website, both markets belong to the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association.
“Because we are part of the association, we can accept the farmers market WIC checks and EBT at our markets. One of the programs that stretches the EBT dollar is called Double Up Food Bucks. This also helps our farmers because they can charge what it costs to grow the food,” the website states.
The Double Up Food Bucks program was started in 2017, and has since been implemented in the Los Lunas and Bosque Farms markets.
“If they’re eligible, I will give them a $2 coin for every $2 they take out of their account. This $2 coin is worth $2 for fresh fruits and vegetables, plants that grow food, pinto beans and loose chile,” Torres said. “You can’t buy hot foods with any of the EBT stuff and it can’t be prepared foods on-site. It’s really a neat program, and I invite anyone who’s curious about it to visit my table at one of the markets.”
Torres’ wife, Loretta, is the other half of the team who started the Los Lunas Farmers Market 13 years ago and the Bosque Farms Growers Market.
“We have a lot of small vendors that are backyard growers, and that’s good because they’re sharing their food with their families and friends. The good thing is, when the shelves are empty in the grocery stores, they’re not empty at the farmer’s market,” Loretta said. “It also allows farmers to get a little more money out of the work they do, and that’s my biggest purpose.”
Loretta has been growing plants for 13 years and has participated in the markets around the county since then. She started off growing food but lived in an area where she was charged for water, so she switched to plants when she found she had a talent for growing them.
A familiar sight that anyone who attends a farmers market will see is vendors educating patrons about their plants, the best conditions to grow them in, how often to water them, etc.
“People are just looking for information on how they can grow the best plant they can grow,” Torres said. “Some people, because New Mexico is a state that has a lot of poverty, just want to feed their families, and I like sharing information on how to grow plants, watching little ones get excited to grow things and be part of the expansion of agriculture in the state.”
Both markets run until the middle of October. The Los Lunas Farmers Market runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at 3447 Lambros Circle near Heritage Park. The Bosque Farms Growers Market runs from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at 1090 North Bosque Loop. For information, visit their Facebook pages.