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Farmers’ Market Tips

Summer Squash  

    Winter Squash


Farmer’s Market vendors take pride in the quality of the foods they offer. To enjoy safe and delicious products, here are a few practical tips provided by Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.

At The Market

  • Purchase from vendors that follow safe food handling practices. If samples are provided, make sure they are offered in a clean and sanitary manner.
  • If processed foods like salsa and honey are purchased, check to see that they are labeled and processed in a facility that follows Good Manufacturing Practices.
  • When buying prepared foods such as hot dogs and potato salad, make sure hot foods are kept hot (above 140°F), cold foods are served cold (below 40°F), and everything is kept clean.
  • Ask the vendor for specific handling instructions for the foods you buy. Products may need to be refrigerated, particularly if they contain no preservatives.

On The Way Home

  • Make the market the last stop. Don't leave food in the car while you run errands. Bacteria can grow readily at the temperature inside your car or trunk, causing a decrease in quality and safety.
  • If you live a distance from the market, bring along a cooler with ice packs to transport perishable items such as fresh, prepared foods and dairy products.

At Home

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods immediately.
  • Keep raw and processed foods separate.
  • Follow basic safety rules - keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold, and everything clean!
  • If you're planning on canning or freezing your market produce, be sure to follow USDA food preservation guidelines with needed adjustments for altitude.


  • Most fruits and vegetables store best in the refrigerator at 32 to 40° F.
  • Pears keep well at 32°F, but must be taken out to ripen at 65 to 70°F.
  • Not all fresh produce stores well together. Apples, tomatoes and melons give off ethylene gas and cause carrots to develop a bitter taste.


  • Fruits, tomatoes and pickled vegetables may be canned in a boiling water bath using USDA recommended processing times.
  • To adjust boiling water bath times for altitude, add 1 minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level if the time is 20 minutes or less. If the processing time is more than 20 minutes, increase by 2 minutes per 1,000 feet.
  • Vegetables, meats, poultry and fish (low-acid foods) must be canned in a steam pressure canner at 240°F for the appropriate time to destroy heat-resistant bacteria.
  • When using steam pressure canners at altitude, increase the processing pressure by ˝-pound per 1,000 feet above sea level (12.5 lbs. for 5,000 feet; 13.5 lbs. for 7,000 feet; 15 lbs. for 10,000 feet) if using dial gauges. If using a weighted gauge, use the 15-pound weight between 1,000 and 10,000 feet elevation.



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