Denver’s Farmers’ Markets: Family Fun

Denver’s Farmers’ Markets: Family Fun 1“Look, Mommy – a radish!” I beam with pride as my toddler excitedly points to the stack of pink-hued veggies on the table and correctly shouts the name.

It’s Saturday morning and we’re wandering between tents at the Cherry Creek Farmers’ Market.

For years I’ve enjoyed frequenting the various markets around town. I’d saunter through, comparing quality, chatting with the product owners, and maybe taking a few moments to sit at one of the café tables drinking in the live music and fragrances of the nearby baked goods being created on site. I enjoyed a little time alone or catching up with a friend.

Denver’s Farmers’ Markets: Family Fun 2
The Farmers' Market can be a learning experience for the whole family.

These days, the markets have become a learning exercise.

“How many plums do you see?” “What color are the onions?”

We spend this sunny Colorado morning counting beets, listing colors and differentiating between tomatoes and apples. It has become an opportunity to introduce Kai to the concept of whole foods as well as integrating some basic learning in a fun and colorful environment, while allowing me to pick up locally grown groceries for the upcoming week.

I ask Kai to choose four apricots, and his eyes light up as he slowly counts out the fruit and gathers them into his small arms. I note a few faint bruises on the yellow flesh but dismiss them, knowing he’ll be much more excited to try an item he has chosen himself.

However, he’s not the only one learning. In the past, I might have had a fleeting moment where I’d wonder about an item, but quickly move on to the ones I knew. With a toddler, an answer to all questions is fully expected.

“What’s this?” he asks, holding up a root I don’t recognize. I can’t even pretend to know, so we wait patiently for the attendant to help us out. We learn together it’s an unusually long rutabaga, although it looks nothing like the image I had in my mind’s eye. I purchase a bag full, along with tips on preparation, while Kai practices saying his new word to any passersby who will listen.

Denver’s Farmers’ Markets: Family Fun 3
Fresh food and a fun experience await market visitors.

He circles through the fresh flowers tent and inhales, eyes closed and with an exaggerated whiff, making those nearby break into chuckles. Following his lead, I do my own exaggerated motion, marveling at just how aromatic the petunias are when enjoyed in this way. He enthusiastically announces he loves flowers before hopping back out to the main walkway.

We stop at every tent just to see what’s on the table. We stop to pet every puppy cooling down in a shady spot. We admire bicycles and guitars and vibrantly colored umbrellas. If there’s a sample to be had, his little fingers grab one for the both of us, with him loudly proclaiming it’s the best ever.

In a world where he’s often surrounded by billboards teaching him how to identify fast-food logos, the farmers’ market offers respite. Kai experiences food in its whole form, associating it with fun colors, tastes and scents, while I get to enjoy the local farmers’ market with a fresh, childlike perspective.

If You Go

For a list of Colorado Farmers’ Markets, dates, times and locations:

Sheri L. Thompson of Denver is a freelance photojournalist who regularly contributes to