Farm fresh, local produce to make its yearly debut at Mesa County markets
Unlike the grocery store where it can be a gamble determining how ripe or good a piece of fruit will taste, at Grand Valley’s farmers markets, vendors often offer a sample of their peaches, melons and cherries.
The abundance of fresh, locally grown food is one of the advantages of living in a farming community like the Grand Valley.
A wide array of fruits and vegetables, harvested the same day, can be found at any of the Palisade, Grand Junction and Fruita farmers markets held throughout the summer and fall.
Jams, jellies, salsas and other products made from the bounty are also sold at the outdoor venues.
IN GRAND JUNCTION
The first market to open the season is at Teller Arms Shopping Center, 28th Street and North Avenue. There’s not a formal opening date for this one — it depends on the farmer and what’s ready to harvest any given season. This year the market, held Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7:30 a.m. to noon, will open in June.
Robert Helmer of Helmer’s Produce is typically one of the first farmers to show up at the Teller Arms market. His wife, Flo, said the first vegetables to expect this year are peas — sugar pods and English. They will also have honey and jams.
Z’s Orchard is another vendor at Teller Arms.
Early crops will include strawberries, lettuce and onions, said Carol Zadrozny of Z’s Orchard. There will also be fruit preserves, honey and their homemade aprons for sale.
Unfortunately, due to a late spring frost, there will not be sweet cherries or apricots this year, she said.
Another market is the Grand Junction Downtown Farmers’ Market Festival, held in the 300-700 block of Main Street. This event attracts an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people each Thursday evening throughout the season.
Last year’s market featured more than 20 different farmers selling flowers, fruits and vegetables, as well as fish and grass-fed beef.
It can be a fun way to spend a summer evening by enjoying a light dinner from one of the many prepared food vendors on the premises. There’s usually homemade green chili for example, savory or fruit crepes made to order, or freshly popped kettle corn.
Live music, juggling acts and other performance art can be found throughout Main Street during the weekly festival. The area’s notable artists also sell their wares during the market.
The Grand Junction market starts June 13 and runs through Sept. 19 from 5-8:30 p.m.
Palisade’s famous peaches travel a short distance to get to the Palisade Farmers Market, held in town at Third and Main streets. Palisade’s market is held Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 16 through Sept. 22.
Typically, you’ll find a half-dozen or so produce vendors, several food booths, and a wide array of arts and crafts for sale. There’s also live music and other entertainment going on throughout the morning and afternoon.
Fruita’s Farmers Market, located on the Fruita Civic Center lawn, 325 E. Aspen, starts June 29 and goes through Sept. 21. Like the other area farmers’ markets you’ll find abundant produce, artwork and live entertainment. It’s held Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
SPRIGS & SPROUTS
Sprigs and Sprouts of Western Colorado, 3669 G Road (Hwy. 6 next to Palisade High School.), is worth checking out whether you’re a visitor to the area or a longtime resident.
Owners Ruth Elkins and Linda Bailey decided to become farmers a couple years ago and have done an outstanding job of growing lavender using a closed-loop irrigation system to conserve water in the valley’s arid climate.
They also grow a variety of herbs and vegetables, specializing in heirloom types that they sell in their country store, along with several lavender products such as soaps, candles, salves and more. (Sometimes customers harvest the veggies along with the owners, right off the vine.)
The shop also carries pottery by local artists, jams, jellies, salsas, honey and locally roasted coffee.
Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. Tours can be scheduled by calling 970-234-1261 or 970-464-1214. Or, e-mail email@example.com.
Five generations of the Talbott family have been growing Palisade’s famous peaches since the 1920s. Grown at an altitude of about 5,000 feet, Palisade’s warm days, cool nights and protection from the nearby canyon winds is the secret to its peaches having the best flavor, said fourth-generation peach farmer Harry Talbott.
Talbott Farms sells most of its peaches wholesale around the country, but locals buy peaches at its store at the top of the hill on 38 Road (next to the Talbott’s packing shed). The store is open from mid-July to the end of December, and it also carries pears, apples, locally raised honey and jams and jellies.
Talbott Farms can be reached at 970-464-5943.
Many other Palisade farmers also sell produce at roadside stands or small country stores, giving consumers lots of options for good, fresh food.
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