If you visit the historic – and yummy – Santa Fe Farmers’ Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico on a Saturday for some of its eye-popping, mouth-watering produce, you might be surprised to find that there’s plenty of fine art right nearby.  But then again, you might just smile and say “That’s Santa Fe!” if you’re familiar with this city’s passion for art.

So in love with art is Santa Fe that it’s just not satisfied, as other cities might easily be, to provide people with a beautiful downtown plaza full of art shops. Nor is Santa Fe content, incredible as it may seem, to give art lovers a half-mile or more of galleries on its famed Canyon Road.

But in a rich curatorial stroke that befits this southwestern capital of art, Santa Fe also offers us an artists’ market along with its legendary farmers’ market in the Railyard.

Both the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market and the Santa Fe Artists’ Market are integral to the public space created during the recent revitalization of the Railyard by this community to celebrate its culture and history.  So follow us on over there for some exceptional local produce and art – and some pretty good music too!

How to Catch These Markets

A Freight Train and the Rail Runner Express Near the Santa Fe Railyard / Photo by Deb Nystrom Via Flickr.  Creative Commons License 2.0

Pull into the North Railyard (located about a mile or so southwest of the Plaza) on most any Saturday between 8:00 a.m. and 1 p.m. from March through December, and you’re sure to wind up on the right side of the tracks.  For on one side you’ll find a  farmers’ market as big as freight train in a building at 1607 Paseo de Peralta Street, and just on the other side, a fantasy express of a fine arts and crafts market at the corner of Market and Alcadesa Streets.

Whichever side of the tracks you do start out on, this double-header of a market day is bound to be a good time.

And it’s especially nice that there’s no entrance fee.

A Wild Marimba Welcome Awaits You

The Wild Marimbas Entertaining Visitors to the Santa Fe Railyard Markets. / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved.

Once you arrive in the North Railyard, walk towards the wooden water tower, which sits between the two markets.  As you get closer to it, there’ll be a good group of musicians like The Wild Marimbas to welcome you in – polyphonically in the case of the Marimbas.  Indeed, there’s such a lovely vibe here, such a pervasive feeling of joy in the day. The Railyard is so peaceful, and people are friendly.

It’s as if people are united by a single thought such as: “Lucky are we to be here at these gorgeous markets on this glorious day and, well, there’s just no other place that we’d really rather be.”

At the Farmers’ Market, You Can Get Vegetables So Fine They Look Like Objets d’Art

Perfect Pumpkins and Gourds in a Farmer’s Stand at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved.

In this city that quietly prides itself on having some gems of museums like the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market could easily be its museum of local produce.  For it showcases the beautiful agricultural bounty of about 150 farmers from 15 New Mexico counties.

Being locally grown, the produce here is super fresh, much of it having been recently picked from the fields, gardens, and greenhouses. Indeed, under the slogan “Keeping it Fresh Since 1968,” this market has been feeding Santa Feans and their friends and visitors the very finest fruits, vegetables, and artisanal foods, much of it organic, for nearly half a century now.  It’s quite a delicious tradition to be sure.

A Great Harvest of the Regional Farms Set Amid Music

The Music Flows Easy in the Sweet Santa Fe Air. / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved.

The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market takes place in and around a big, bright modern warehouse type of building that has about 25,000 or so square feet of space.  Many farmers set up their produce inside on long tables with pretty tablecloths, while just as many others, it seems, vend from canopied tables along the building’s outer wall and near the railroad tracks.  Garage-style doors on the building are left open to help circulate the crowds, the lively tunes of a variety of musical groups that perform here, and the clean, appetite-stimulating Santa Fe air.  Aptly, it’s an LEED Gold certified building.

Together the farmers bring a bumper crop with them, the great abundance of the regional family farms:  apples, chard, chili peppers, chili peppers, chili peppers (wink), garlic, jicama, lettuce, parsley, peas, pea shoots, peaches, pears, pecans, peppers, squash and squash blossoms and tomatoes – just to name some of what you can buy here.

Santa Fe Farmers' Market: Ristras and Barbecue - Photo by Joseph Decibus

Fiery Red Ristras Frame a Sizzling Barbecue at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved.

Ranchers, bakers, herbalists, dairyfolk, and a variety of artisans also set up shop here, offering meats, danishes and doughnuts, artisanal breads, herbal extracts and teas, cheeses, mountain flowers, handmade bath soap, and other natural goods, respectively. You can even add a little Asian spice to your day with a breakfast of kimchi pancakes from Mi Young’s Farm or some egg rolls and spring rolls from Ligaialein Products.

There are no barkers here; no one pitching or pushing their produce.  Rather the Day-Glo vegetables, fruits, and flowers speak vibrantly for themselves in this garden of earthly delights.

Don’t Miss Those Magical Mushrooms

Santa Fe Farmers' Market: Mushroom Vendor - Photo by Joseph Decibus

Mushrooms Blend in with the Tablecloth and Then They Disappear. / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved.

If you’re lucky (and quick), you’ll be able to get some of the marvelous mushrooms that are sold here. Look for a vendor with curly brown hair who pops up around 11:00 a.m. inside, near the back of the market as silently and suddenly as, well, a mushroom.  He’ll have a trove of shiitake, oyster, and other types for sale, which he’ll gently lay out, little by little, on his table.  While it may seem that he’s off to a late start, he sells out in about an hour, his market ritual ending as quietly and drowsily as it began.

There Are So Many Reasons to Visit – If You Need One

Santa Fe Farmers Market: Dahlias and Vegetables - Photo by Joseph Decibus

Day-Glo Dahlias for a Sunshine Daydream / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved

It’s a good idea to visit the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market at the start of your trip to this city so that you can stock up on healthy food to help you power through its demanding art scene.  (There’s nothing like chewing on some fresh baby spinach to fend off art fatigue – a very real hazard in Santa Fe.)

But there are other great reasons to visit as well such as:

► To see what an incredible agricultural achievement that this community makes in a state that is mostly desert;

► To see how fine fine vegetables can really be;

 To begin re-calibrating your color sense to the vivid New Mexico palette;

► To connect with nature by appreciating its fruits and the people who cultivate them;

► To meet locals;

► To relax in the market’s Arcadian rhythms and in the melodies of its musicians; or,

► To simply satisfy a yen for a Boston Cream doughnut and a cup of organic coffee from Whoo’s Donuts.

At the Artists’ Market, You’ll Find the Newest Works of Some of New Mexico’s Top Artists

Santa Fe Artists' Market: Artists' Tents - Photo by Joseph Decibus

And on the Other Side of the Tracks: the Tents of the Santa Fe Artists’ Market / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved.

Many local juried artists pitch their white tents along a bend in the tracks at the Railyards just across from the Farmers’ Market. 

It’s a caravan that wends its way through the Railyard like an elaborate dream. 

For within these tents, you’ll find the fantasies, ideas, stories, and obsessions of the artists colorfully expressed in a variety of mediums including painting and drawing, mixed media, photography, sculpture and woodworking, jewelry, ceramics and glass, and even fiber and leather craft.  This market offers a good chance to meet some of New Mexico’s well-known artists; to see their most recent art works in a refreshing, laid-back, natural-light setting; and, to discuss their themes and techniques with them.  It’s also an opportunity to score some nice pieces of art at less-than-gallery prices.

Santa Fe Artists' Market: Shows Studios - Photo by Joseph Decibus

Emotive Paintings of Native Americans in the Tent of Shows Studios at the Santa Fe Artists’ Market. / Photo by Joseph Decibus. All Rights Reserved.

You can find some interesting pairings of different kinds of art here. In the tent of Turza and Andrew Shows, for instance, you can buy their exquisite southwestern-style jewelry as well as Mr. Shows’ paintings of Native Americans, which are intensely colorful, striking, and affecting.

And you can make your own fun combinations too with items that you buy from one or both of the markets.  If, for instance, you’ve bought an edible gourd over at the farmers’ market, you can buy a painted gourd to go with it from an mixed media artist like Anne Macker – and thus enjoy one of the bon mots suggested for your whimsical pleasure at the crossroads of these markets.

Switch from Farmers’ Gardens to Artists’ Inner Gardens

While the farmers bring a slice of raw nature in all its edible, perishable beauty to the Railyard, many of the artists offer their imaginary renderings of nature in colors, styles, and mediums that celebrate and immortalize it. 

These artists bring fanciful gardens to the farmers’ actual ones.

You can, for instance, have your nature in the form of the lyrical, delicately detailed ink and watercolor botanicals of Celia Cortez; or, you can have it in the form of the big and boldly colorful, wonderfully wild jungle scene paintings of Melanie Birk from Blue Thistle Arts.

Just Imagine…

Santa Fe Artists's Market: Mobiles of Sarena Mann's AirCraft - Photo by Joseph Decibus

The Festive Girls in the Mobiles of Sarena Mann Dance Their Way into Your Heart. / Photo by Joseph Decibus.  All Rights Reserved.

You’re walking through the Santa Fe Artists’ Market, munching on a lemon pistachio doughnut, when one tent catches your eye.  In it, many tiny, colorful figures appear to be joyfully flying around, parading through the air at the top of the tent.  They’re oblivious to the market, caught up as they are in the whirlwind of their own festivities.

You move in for a better look and discover that they’re miniature girls all primly decked out in three-quarter and full-length, parti-colored dresses.  The girls are hanging onto the stems of beautiful flowers or to the long handles of festive parasols, which appear to be keeping them aloft, sweeping them along as they balletically kick up their legs. Others are flying about on wings of gauzy fabric.

It’s as if they’re saying that, color, in whatever form it takes, whether created by nature or by artists, is what lifts all spirits at these markets.

Pretty circular garlands of pearl-like flowers link the girls, forming bucolic rope swings in which some of them happily sit.

These are the ethereal, inspirational figures that populate the transportive mobiles created by Sarena Mann in her “AirCraft.”

The longer you watch these girls hypnotically twirling above you in the cool Santa Fe breeze, the more you begin to feel as if they’re lifting you away with them. You feel the world spinning round, and you’re spinning round with the world (taste of pistachio in your mouth), and you see the rough, weather-beaten hands of the farmers, feel the fertile earth in them, and you see the purple and pink sprays of mountain flowers, smell the sweet earth in them, and the girls are gliding giddily through the air (taste of sugary lemon in your mouth), taking you far, far away from your cares on this all-too-brief, beautiful day.

If you’ve been to Santa Fe, leave some tips for fellow readers in the comments section below.  If you’ve never been but are longing to go, you can get a lot more information at the official travel site of Santa Fe.

[Our featured image is of the many visitors who are enjoying their Saturday by strolling through the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.  Visually, the canopied stands of the farmers blend with the tents of the artists behind the water tower.  Photo taken by Joseph Decibus.  All Rights Reserved.]

About The Author

Joseph Decibus writes for CheapOair and is also an avid traveler who occasionally writes about his trips. He looks forward to informing readers periodically about interesting places and events throughout the world.

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