GLENWOOD SPRINGS — New Castle resident and farm-to-table entrepreneur Paula Troobnik is all about keeping it local and contributing to Colorado’s home-grown agricultural economy.
She buys her organic basil to make her Aspen Cornucopia vinaigrette and marinade from Osage Gardens in New Castle and has it bottled in Denver.
From there, it’s distributed to 32 Whole Foods stores, 118 King Soopers, 22 Sprouts stores and all of the Vitamin Cottage outlets in the state.
She also partners with local vendors, like Eagle Smoked Salmon at the Glenwood Springs Downtown Market on Tuesdays, and at numerous other farmers markets around the state to sell her salad dressings through her company, Horn of Plenty Foods.
“The local aspect of the farmer’s markets is great,” Troobnik said during the Tuesday evening market this week. “There is just such a great community feel to it, and it’s great for branding.”
She’s also a member of Colorado Proud, a program created by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in 1999 to promote food and agricultural products that are grown, raised or processed in Colorado.
Colorado Proud was also on hand Tuesday as part of its month-long “Choose Colorado” tour, which is meant to raise awareness about buying local and regional, and the impact of the agricultural industry on the state’s economy.
“The markets are where consumers can talk directly with the farmers to learn more about their product and to know who they’re buying it from,” said Wendy White, spokeswoman for Colorado Proud.
Colorado’s agriculture industry provides more than 170,000 jobs and contributes more than $40 billion to the state’s economy annually, while also generating more than $1 billion in exported products, said White.
Locally, the Glenwood Downtown Market generated approximately $130,000 in sales last summer, resulting in about $4,000 in sales tax revenues for the city of Glenwood Springs, according to Nancy Page, a downtown business owner and member of the Downtown Market board.
“For us, the market has helped to bring people downtown and reminded them that this is a good place to be,” said Jan Harr, who also sits on the Downtown Market board. “It’s an affordable place for farmers to market their goods, and we’ve also provided a place for people to test new businesses.”
Glenwood Springs also has a Saturday farmers market in the parking lot at Rite Aid, which contributes to the local economy and provides a place for farmers to sell their produce.
Colorado Proud members include the state’s major grocers, King Soopers and Safeway, which partner to carry local produce and products, White said.
Statewide, there are 110 farmer’s markets in towns big and small providing valuable local exposure to Colorado growers and producers.
And, nationally, the number of farmers markets increased 4 percent this summer over last year, White said.
“Having the local markets plays a major role in connecting the consumer with the local product,” she said. “Consumers can get a fresh, high-quality product, and learn about it at the same time.
“So many people are generations removed from any connection to the farm and ranch, so the education is a big piece of it,” White added.
Colorado Proud makes it easier for consumers to identify and purchase Colorado products by labeling them with the Colorado Proud logo.
Choose Colorado is a three-week, statewide road trip to educate consumers about local goods. Previous stops included Safeway locations and farmers markets in Denver, Grand Junction, Durango, Montrose, Alamosa, Salida, Greeley and Vail. The tour wraps up at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo later this month.
Gov. John Hickenlooper proclaimed August as Colorado Proud Month, and last week was National Farmer’s Market Week.
Colorado Proud started in 1999 with 65 companies, and now has more than 1,900 members that include growers, processors, restaurants, retailers and associations statewide.