Year-round farmers’ market in Basalt will boast local vendors’ bounty
The Aspen Times
IF YOU GO
What: Grand opening of Skip’s Farm to Market
Where: 227 Midland Ave. in Basalt, the Riverwalk building
When: Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Of note: Live music and meet-and-greet with vendors starts at 3 p.m.
A steady stream of shoppers flowed into Skip’s Farm to Market on Wednesday afternoon, looking over bins of apples, onions, garlic and squash, bags of potatoes, as well as coolers stocked with carrots, greens and locally raised meats.
The store at 227 Midland Ave. in the Riverwalk building opened Nov. 10 and is hosting a grand opening throughout the day Friday. But many midvalley residents already have learned through word of mouth and social media that they can buy naturally grown foods from throughout the Western Slope at the new store in Basalt.
“It’s essentially serving as a community hub through food,” store manager Aaron Rogers said.
The store was opened by Skip Doty, a well-known face at farmers’ markets and veggie stands throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. He founded Early Morning Orchard in Palisade in the early 2000s and has evolved into a leader in the locavore food movement.
The grind of selling through markets once a week during warm-weather months was wearing down Doty. He wanted to open a place where he could meet customers’ needs throughout the week and “better engage” the smaller farmers trying to scratch a living from the earth.
“This will bring in the local growers and producers and celebrate them,” Doty said.
He kept Early Morning Orchard for the growing side and started the independent Skip’s Farm to Market for the selling side. He will still sell next year at several farmers’ markets and stands, but the store will be his focus in Basalt.
Doty stocks his shelves with food grown or raised by farmers and ranchers in the Roaring Fork Valley, the North Fork Valley by Paonia, the Grand Valley and as far away as Castle Valley outside of Moab.
He intends to make commitments to small farmers to buy the goods they want to sell. That will give them assurance of demand so they can plan ahead and allow them to focus on specific crops.
What his vendors cannot provide will be covered by Early Morning Orchard, which has five greenhouses along with orchards and fields on its 25 acres in Palisade.
While Doty is confident he will keep the store stocked with produce and other goods through the winter, he’s particularly excited about harvest time next summer and fall when he will be rotating in bounty from a variety of sources.
Doty said he is impressed at how far the local food movement has grown in the Roaring Fork Valley since he lived there in 2006-07. “There was a lot of talking then,” he noted. Now people are “doing” as well as talking.
Many of his employees in the Basalt store are farmers or farm workers supplementing their incomes. A large sign on the center of the rear wall of the store will highlight a different farmer or rancher every four to six weeks and tell a little of their story. Wild Mountain Seeds is currently featured.
Doty felt the time was ripe for a market store to work in Basalt based on comments from customers at the farmers’ market in town and the growing number of vendors.
“He has a good fan base here,” Rogers said.
She sees many people come in every day or two to stock up on produce at a better price than most competitors. Some of the customers are cooks who get excited about using what’s available as the centerpiece of a meal.
In addition to produce, the store has coffee, an apothecary and packaged goods ranging from applesauce from Ella Family Farms in Grand Junction to Roaring Fork Spices from Glenwood Springs. There are grab-and-go salads and sandwiches prepared by Open Fire Catering.
Doty also bought the Silt Cafe and is remodeling the space so it includes a smaller cafe, a commercial kitchen and a large store. It is scheduled to open sometime in 2018.
Doty and Rogers said they look forward to the Basalt store evolving with the seasons and customers’ feedback. Doty purchased a 600-square-foot prime corner space in the Riverwalk building, which he said is a signal to the community that he’s in it for the long haul.
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Home values from Silt to Parachute are way up, according to tax assessors. That will contribute to a higher tax bill next year.