HillsideFA2.jpeg

Ruthie Markwardt provides fresh produce to Hillside residents.

The Helen Hunt Campus, a former elementary school on East Moreno Avenue that now is home to six nonprofits and a Switchbacks Coffee, hosted the Colorado Farm and Art Market Saturday, Sept. 26.

The event brought together vendors and food producers to provide fresh produce and more to the Hillside community. Another market is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10“We’re experimenting with what days of the week work best for people, and getting a feel for things because we’ve never had a market here before,” says Ruthie Markwardt, the market manager for Colorado Farm and Art Market.

Colorado Farm and Art Market also holds markets at the Pioneer’s Museum and at Margarita at Pine Creek.

This farmers market is strictly for local residents.“We are having it for the Hillside community,” said Natalie Avila, the volunteer coordinator for Colorado Springs Food Rescue, “just to bring more fresh produce and more options to the community, instead of it being the local gas station.

HillsideFA1.jpeg

Colorado Farm and Art Market at the Helen Hunt Campus.

Also, Colorado Springs Food Rescue is located in Hillside, and we do no-cost grocery programs. We also do internships with schools. We have an assortment of different programs that just kind of bring our community together. We’re here for our fellow residents and community members because we love them.”In addition to fresh produce, vendors like Jay Hardy of Tree Pose Cooperative were selling jewelry and art.

As a cooperative, Hardy sells not only his products but those of other local artists as well. “We just kind of came to an agreement to help each other sell our products. We sell jewelry, she [Momo, an artist featured at Tree Pose’s booth] sells paintings,” he explains. “We help each other. We’re using the principle of cooperative economics because what we’re finding is more and more smaller artists, and people who are doing home-based businesses, they don’t have a place to sell and to market. They don’t have any help, necessarily, that’s affordable help or competent help. What we’re doing is the people who have experience getting their product or service out. We’re trying to make it so it’s mutually beneficial for both parties to help each other.”

Tree Pose Cooperative also employs what Hardy calls “participatory budgeting” to help the community.

Hardy sets aside 10% of their profits from every event they attend, and once that amount reaches $500 they plan to donate it to a community group which will be determined by community members. “We’re at about $165 of the $500 goal,” he said. “We’re going to take 10%of what we make today and add to that. We’re talking to some businesses in town about potentially matching the goal. When we get to $500 we’ll see if they want to match with their $500. Hopefully that’s something that materializes. We can use that in the community to give people a better option than what we had. We can give the community the option of $1,000.

HillsideFA3.jpeg

Tree Pose Cooperative sells jewelry and art from local artists, and is using the profits to give back to the community.

What would you do with $1,000?

”When the Colorado Farm and Art Market returns to the Helen Hunt Campus, Avila and Markwardt hope to have additional vendors. “We would love to have this whole parking lot full of vendors,” said Avila. “That would be a dream.”

Interested vendors can contact Avila at natalie@coloradospringsfoodrescue.org or Markwardt at farmandartmarket@gmail.com to secure a booth.

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.