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Season’s eatings: Farmers Market Ogden springs up again Saturday

By Cathy McKitrick - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 24, 2022
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Shoppers and vendors can be seen from the upper floor window of Roosters Brewing Company during the opening day of the Farmers Market Ogden on Historical 25th Street in downtown Ogden on Saturday, June 22, 2019.
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Jon Contos of Arrowhead Urban Farms sells produce to Kym Buttschardt during the opening day of the Farmers Market Ogden Saturday, June 24, 2017, on Historic 25th Street in Ogden.
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Stephanie Grotzky, left, purchases some produce from Bonnie Biskey of Tagge's Famous Fruit and Veggie Farms during the opening day of the Ogden Farmers Market on 25th Street Saturday, June 24, 2016.

OGDEN — Memorial Day weekend is often seen as the gateway from spring to summer with Labor Day weekend providing the other portal that signals the onset of fall.

So it’s fitting that the 16-week Farmers Market Ogden begins Saturday and ends Sept. 10.

The family-oriented event, held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on three full blocks of Historic 25th Street, will feature more than 200 vendors this year. About half will be artisans, almost one-third will sell groceries and produce, and the remaining 13% will offer prepared food ready for immediate consumption, according to information provided by Sher Rowley, manager for Farmers Market Ogden.

“Building farm-to-table connections is one of the many things that excites me about this year’s summer market,” Rowley said in a recent statement, urging people to “keep an eye out for new vendors and opportunities to volunteer at local farms”

Shan Shui Gardens of North Ogden is among that new crop of vendors.

Learning from the land

“My farm doesn’t look like a farm. There are parts of it that look extremely wild,” Dennis Duce said as he described the fascinating experiment he and his wife, Debbie, are conducting across their 1-plus acre mountainside property.

Duce explained that Shan Shui literally means “mountain water.” His land abuts Wilson Peak and spans springs that can either be piped or allowed to erupt into surface ponds. He prefers to do the latter and they now have 10 such water features where koi, goldfish and trout can flourish.

“Not all of our farming space is square plots,” Duce said. “Some is, some will be, but much of it is based around the shapes of the ponds and trying to enable biodiversity, which we’ve done in abundance.”

When asked to define biodiversity, Duce said, “It’s trying to think as closely to nature as possible.”

He and his wife bought the land six years ago, and when Duce discovered the springs, he said, “I started listening to what the property wanted to be, not what I wanted it to be.”

At the time, he was in construction sales and had no intention of farming. But his love for the land began to unfold and ultimately captured his interest and energy.

“Last year, we counted six different types of dragonflies we saw on the property,” Duce said. “When we bought the property, there was only one.”

In January, Duce took the Utah State University Extension Master Gardener program, then attended the Urban and Small Farms Conference the following month. “During that conference, I decided to retire (from his sales job), although it’s funny to call it retirement because I work way harder now,” Duce said. “But when you’re doing something that was for five years your weekend enjoyment — and you’re doing it for a living — then it’s also hard to call it work.”

In March, they completed the paperwork to officially begin to farm, and then applied for farmers markets both in Ogden and in Davis County. Since then, Duce has restructured his life accordingly.

What to expect

When asked what marketgoers can expect to see at his booth, Duce’s quick reply was “nothing normal.”

Starting off, he will offer flower arrangements and microgreens.

“As the summer goes on, we have a number of interesting lettuces — like red and speckled,” Duce said. Also watch for fun colors and unique flavors of carrots, beets, radishes and basil.

“All kinds of interesting basils,” Duce added. “I make some of the best pesto outside of Italy.”

Duce has launched the process of getting certified for filleting trout, with the hope he can offer both standard rainbow and albino rainbow trout fillets later this season.

“We will definitely have them at the 2023 market,” Duce said.

Koi, goldfish and pond-related plants can be purchased at Shan Shui Gardens (1825 Fruitland Drive in North Ogden) but will not be available at the farmers markets.

Come explore!

Newcomer Shan Shui Gardens will join hundreds of full-season and weekly vendors, local musicians and much more, according to Haille Van Patten, marketing manager for the nonprofit Ogden Downtown Alliance, which produces and manages the summertime event.

Free outdoor community yoga classes will start at 9 a.m. each market Saturday in the Municipal Gardens. Participants are encouraged to bring their own yoga mats and any cash donations they’d like to provide.

Shoppers who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits can exchange up to $30 for “Double Up Food Bucks” at the downtown information booth in order to purchase the market’s locally grown food.

Find more information and weekly updates online at farmersmarketogden.com or @FarmersMarketOgden on Facebook and Instagram.

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