Despite major changes thanks to COVID-19, including mask wearing, one way walk thru, no dogs — once the NM Health Department decided the market was a “grocery store”— no musical groups, no ordering ahead from certain vendors, as was possible in the past, no breakfast offering for months from Apple Tree Farm, and similar, the Corrales Growers’ Market still thrives.
And Apple Tree will be back on site with fresh cooked specialties for opening day of the 2022 season, on Sunday, April 24 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners will present their first plant sale as well. The last Winter Market is April 3, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
According to long-time market manager Al Gonzales, who runs Gonzales Flower Farm with his wife Bonnie, the changes in the past two years have not been debilitating. “We found that our customers like the map and the location of vendors. Both make shopping easier.” Vendors run their own websites, and yes, “because our makeup of what vendors sell is a high percentage of food products, the health department says no dogs.”
The “no dogs” thing is much easier on Gonzales. “We are not a dog park! We have talked to dog owners and there are responsible owners and those who are not. Not having to deal with dog fights and dog shit is a blessing, he says. “People walking in with five dogs on a leash to socialize their dogs is not what we are about.”
While the market has no new sellers at the moment, it did not lose any established vendors, either. Gonzales said the market “revenue stream was over $500,000.” A COVID era innovation has been an online Market Shop, offering T-shirts and African baskets. Sales of these products seriously boost the market, and all purchases can be picked up on site each scheduled Sunday. See https://cgmstore.square. site/s/shop.
Based on a survey earlier, as well as customer counts, “The market will not be having music. Too many people came just for music, not to buy food.” Gonzales stressed that the market is returning to its mission statement: “The Corrales Growers’ Market operates to support the traditional agricultural economics of the Village of Corrales and to provide community access to sustainable sources of locally grown food. We support the preservation of farmland, the sustainability of family farms and local agricultural production by providing agricultural producers a marketing facility for the sale of their products directly to consumers.”
Way back in the Corrales Comment Garden and Landscape issue of 2017, intrepid gardener and researcher Anita Walsh tried to pin down the exact dates of the establishment of the much valued Corrales Growers’ Market. Multiple stalwarts were involved in its creation, key among them Evelyn Losack. The first mention of the Growers’ Market appeared in an issue of Corrales Comment as October 15 and 16, 1988, at Curtis Losack Farm. Yet in an interview with Fox News along with Stacia Spragg-Braude, author of a memorable book about Losack, Evelyn said that she started the market in 1985.
Apparently the market moved into the Mercado de Maya parking lot in 1993, then on to the Village Office Complex in 1996. Three years later, it put down roots in its current, and one hopes permanent location, adjacent to the Post Office.