Fall Produce Market in Grand Junction extends selling season
WHAT: Fall Produce Market
WHEN: Thursdays throughout October
WHERE: Gravel pad at corner of Fourth Street and Rood Avenue
COST: Free admission
During Grand Valley’s autumn harvest, Kendra Zadrozny-Williams of Z’s Orchard in Palisade has historically canned, jammed and even tossed portions of her crops due to limited sales opportunities this time of year.
Now, Z’s Orchard (315 33 3/4 Road, Palisade) will attend Grand Junction’s inaugural Fall Produce Market on Thursdays during October to sell extra fruits and vegetables.
“We are glad downtown is trying new things,” Zadrozny-Williams said. “We are happy to be a part of it.”
The market will operate from 3-6 p.m. at the gravel pad near downtown’s parking garage (located at the corner of Fourth Street and Rood Avenue). It will feature farmer-only stands selling late-season apples, tomatoes, apples and raspberries to name a few.
“It’s designed for convenience,” Downtown Grand Junction’s marketing director Aaron Hoffman said.
Throughout the Unites States, farmers markets continue to grow in popularity. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a recent count of nationwide markets increased from 1,755 in 1994 to 8,268 in 2014. Recent counts by Colorado Department of Agriculture, between 2004 and 2014, show markets increased from around 75 to around 105 in Colorado alone.
PRODUCE STAYS & GOES
According to the 2012 census of agriculture documented by the United States Department of Agriculture, Mesa County boasts 2,264 farms totaling more than 380,000 acres. The amount of food products sold totaled more than $84 million. More than $40 million was in crop sales; and $14 million was in fruits, tree nuts and berries.
Plus, over $45 million in fresh fruits and vegetables were exported out of Colorado, USDA confirmed. Statewide agriculture also annually produces 170,000 jobs and contributes $41 billion to the state economy.
While some produce never leaves Grand Valley markets, much of the produce grown in the region is exported to other parts of the state and around the country.
Where does Grand Valley’s food products go? According to Tim Larsen, senior international marketing specialist for Colorado Department of Agriculture, it depends on the farm size.
“They either go big or go specialized in markets directly,” he said. “Generally, a farmer gets 19 percent of the produce retail dollar for every $1 spent in fruits and vegetables.”
A farm in Olathe that produces 25 million ears of corn, for example, can easily make a living selling to grocery stores like City Market. Small-acreage farms would have trouble making a profit in that type of market, however, due to the limited amount of produce grown.
Larsen explained that smaller farms are more comfortable attending local farmers markets to sell produce for a better profit.
“It’s not free to sell of course,” he said, mentioning the cost for travel and market fees.
Buying from local markets is important “first and foremost to support the local farmers,” Larsen added, along with freshness of products.
“Most people want produce tree- or vine-ripened before shipping, and it doesn’t travel that far,” he said. “The less travel, the sooner to eat, the better it is.”
For more information, visit http://www.downtowngj.org.
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