Fruita’s Farmers Market
Fruita, Colo., is about 13 miles from the larger, neighboring city of Grand Junction, yet it is NOT a suburb of the big city. It has its own identity and celebrates being a small town with a farm and ranch atmosphere.
Their Aspen Ave. downtown, while only five blocks long, has shops, including a florist, coffee shops, a pizza restaurant, an auto parts store, various gift shops and two bike stores, the Chamber of Commerce and a newspaper office, The Fruita Times. There are free, summer music concerts on the lawn near City Hall every Thursday night. And every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to Noon, farmers, artists, artisans and various craft people bring their produce and merchandise to town to sell at their summer Farmers Market.
On an early Saturday morning, we interviewed some of the vendors at their booths. Although we couldn’t visit with all of them, here are some of your enterprising Grand Junction, Fruita and Mack friends and neighbors whom we would like you to meet:
Wanda Valencia, with her floppy, flower-bedecked sunhat and wry sense of humor, is an expert on all kinds of plants and vegetables. A customer approached her stand, looking over her produce-filled boxes and baskets.
“May I help you?” Wanda asked.
“No, I’m still thinking,” he replied.
“Well, let me know when you’re done thinking,” she quipped, holding up her enormous cucumbers for the picture.
Barbara Lucks of Oasis Botanica has done craft fairs with her mint and lavender plants, various herbs and gourds. She is a weekly seller at Fruita’s Farmers Market.
“Tom and I have our own shop next to the Mack Post Office and we welcome anyone to come out and learn about plants. We are part of the lavender growers association of Colorado.” (www.OasisBotanica.com)
Diana and Ron Fischer, in addition to selling their homegrown vegetables, use part of their booth to show-off and sell Ron’s handcrafted silver jewelry. Ron, a retired machinist, also displays the small, musical instruments; i.e. guitar, violin and mandolin that he makes.
“After I retired, I needed something to do, and this is it,” he modestly claimed.
Plaid-shirted Torrey Keller of Torrey Originals Flower Farm in Mack was surrounded by hanging baskets of flowers. She lives a half mile away from Oasis Botanica, mentioned above. Torrey grows herbs and likes to share information on how to grow and dry herbs for cooking.
“I use recycled containers for my flowers, sometimes painting and decorating them in imaginative ways.”
Bea Bowes of Aunt Bea’s Produce proudly stands next to her stand, holding cardboard boxes full of her homegrown tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. This is her second year to sell at the market and she loves it. Bea grows her “farm fresh produce” at her Fruita home.
Blue-shirted Bruce Bolton of Bolton’s Orchards and Farm Market, in Grand Junction, and his wife, Josie, have had their orchard for 12 years. They have a farm store on the property.
“I didn’t know anything about farming until we bought our home with its 15 acre orchard 12 years ago. I learned the hard way by talking to other farmers, taking classes and just by getting busy and doing it. We grow peaches, cherries and all kinds of apples. We supply the Denver Zoo with 2,000 pounds of apples a month. The bears love them!” Bruce laughed.
Sam and Diana of Canyon Spirit Soapworks have been handcrafting soap for 12 years.
“It was my wife’s dream to do this,” he bragged, with his arm around his wife’s shoulder. “We make 120 varieties and they’re all 100 percent vegetable and 100 percent natural colors.” He offered their elaborate brochure listing their perfumes and other bath products that they make.
Pink-aproned Florence Hatch, grandmother and proud family owner of Hatch’s Farm, was jovially slicing up various cantaloupes and watermelons onto paper plates with other family members for customers to taste.
“I’ve been doing the Fruita Farmers Market for five years. It’s a family production, with some of the younger ones helping carry the melons to customer’s cars.”
Baseball-capped, Farmer John and his delightful daughter, Donna, of Farmer John’s Home Grown Produce, posed at their booth. “We grow everything that you see here at our home and have been bringing it here for the last three years. I grew up here and love everything about Fruita and its small-town feel,” Donna beamed.
With two guitar-playing musicians singing an old Buck Owens tune, “Streets of Bakersfield” from the stage to an appreciative audience patrolling the booths or peacefully lounging on the green lawn in the center, we left the Farmers Market. We realize there are other small towns and cities with their own farmers’ markets, but none could be better than this one on a Saturday morning in the summer.