A memoir from the market
July 30, 2009
How exciting is Aspen? Where else could you have such a variety of selections to buy than at the Aspen Saturday Farmers’ Market? In the middle of town near City Hall a sea of onlookers and buyers gather to look over all the eye candy in the form of fresh-baked goods, arts and crafts, fresh produce and meats.
Looking down on these long-stem delphiniums, bouquets of sweet peas, oil paintings, fresh cupcakes, meat and produce is a 10-foot, 55-pound, fiberglass rooster. This eye-catching, head-turner of a chicken is the signature piece in front of the owner Mike Troyer’s fresh chicken booth. He stands tall in the back of the Troyer’s poultry farm pick-up, dwarfing the pull-behind trailer carrying all the fresh chicken. Mike, his wife and three of the five children must leave the farm in Olathe around 4:45 a.m. to arrive in Aspen and get set up in plenty of time for the opening bell of the market.
Mike advises his customers to arrive before noon as he is soon to run out of boneless chicken breasts. He asked a customer how she had heard about his chemically free chickens that feed on natural grasses and foods – “I found them at the Butcher’s Block and wanted to know more about them.”
The 10-foot rooster and the fresh chicken are quickly unloaded to become the signature piece in front of their booth. Two of the sons are dispatched with last week’s orders – one to the booth of the lady who makes jewelry and one to the fresh cupcakes booth, where hopefully they will receive free samples.
“Why do you make all the effort and what are some of the problems you have come across in the past?” inquired another customer.
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“Well, I love the business as it gives my family a chance to get values that only come from working to help the health of communities by providing them with healthy, fresh, farm-raised local food.
“Hard work and a good healthy product will help pay for our five children’s education.”
“Problems,” he continues, “of course is keeping the chickens safe from predators such as chicken hawks, coyotes, wild dogs – all of these present safety problems; keeping an updated, USDA-approved kitchen is most challenging; and finding natural additive free food is sometimes difficult, but I would not trade my life for anything.”
Most of the booth owners drive great distances, put out a lot of effort and deliver a good product. Troyer’s booth has been a part of the Farmers’ Market since it started. It’s a long, 130-mile trip before day break. His children sleep while he and his wife share the driving. It all seems to be part of their commitment to growing and delivering fresh food; meanwhile, the 10-foot chicken towers over the market to see that it all goes well. What a mascot! When the rooster is in place all the booths on Aspen’s two streets know the Saturday Farmers’ Market is ready to begin.
I have been coming to Aspen all the 25 years of my life. I am so proud of Aspen; it reminds me of a European market, with all the dogs, the church steeple, and City Hall surrounding a vivacious market.