Good pickin’ |

Good pickin’

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

The farmers market isn’t just about sweet corn and bing cherries.Glenwood Springs’ Saturday market is a place to say hello to a neighbor while picking up a jar of spicy pickled garlic or hand-picked flowers for the dinner table.”They have good veggies, good stuff,” said market regular Paul Hamilton, of Glenwood Springs. “And you always see someone you know.”Here, in the Glenwood Springs High School administration building parking lot off 14th Street, marketgoers prefer farm-fresh produce and hormone- and antibiotic-free elk.

“The draw is the fact that it’s local and raised naturally,” said Robbie Le Valley, owner of Le Valley Ranch in Paonia.Le Valley is part of the Colorado Homestead Ranches co-operative of the North Fork Valley that sells beef, pork, chicken, lamb, salmon, elk and buffalo. The Colorado Homestead Market also offers fresh eggs, homemade jellies and jams, gourmet coffee and teas, goat cheese, chocolate cabernet wine sauce and teriyaki jerky.”We just offer a wide variety of meats, and things to complement meat,” Le Valley said. “We sell a lot of steaks and brats during the grilling season, and then closer to the fall, a lot of roasts. There’s always a real demand for flank steaks.”Western Slope growers Bill DeVries and Ken Kuhns who started the market back when it was in front of the old Naturally health food store in the Tamarack Mall have hauled their crops to the Glenwood farmers market since 1985. DeVries, based in Grand Junction, said Glenwood’s market has remained popular because of its small-town charm and quality items.”Thank God this market has stayed low key, with no bickering,” he said. “Our selling point is the freshness – it’s not the price. I don’t ever say you can get something cheaper than at a super chain. But you can’t get fruits and vegetables any fresher. In Grand Junction, our growing season is ideal for this market.”

The De Vries Farm Market stand sells peaches, green beans, peppers, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans, plums and more. Broccoli’s not quite in season yet, but zucchini, squash and tomatoes are in high demand.”Squash is very prolific. We pick it every day,” he said. “I used to think tomatoes were the top draw, but they’re not. I’m hauling 150 cases of zucchini to Denver Monday morning, and that’s not my largest load.”Kuhns and his Peach Valley CSA (community-supported agriculture) Farm is one of six stands motivating marketgoers to shop local every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. into the fall.”My feeling is that all agriculture needs support. The farmers are unfortunately not running the land developers out of business,” he said. “We just feel strongly about local agriculture, and when I say local I mean 50 miles from a place. I’m on a bandwagon to support that.”Peach Valley CSA, a 15-acre farm just west of New Castle, provides organic items ranging from hand-harvested arugula and beets to fresh garlic and flowers.

“It’s hand-planted and hand-harvested,” said Nick Cohon, aka “The Banjo Guy,” who picks the farm’s crops as well as his instrument’s strings at the market. “We hand-wash it and pick it all. We have a lot of the organic stuff, organic fruits and greens.”As the raindrops fell on the market, shoppers were happy to stand in small lines under colorful umbrellas for ears of corn or handfuls of apricots.”The rain can’t keep us away,” Hamilton said, bags of fresh veggies in tow.

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