Owner of Z’s Orchard in Palisade proud of family legacy, quality products
Carol Zadrozny remembers a time she thought about selling her peach orchard. Her first husband had just died and balancing the acreage and her job as an elementary-school teacher was hard for the single mother.
But a respected colleague and owner of another orchard encouraged her to keep going.
“If you can keep it, you’ll be glad you did,’ he told me,” Zadrozny said.
That was about 40 years ago, and now, four generations of her family work in the peach, apple, berries and apricot fields at Z’s Orchard in Palisade.
Zadrozny was instrumental in starting several major West Slope farmers markets, including the Palisade’s downtown farmers market. The orchard itself has expanded, thanks to her second husband, Richard Skaer’s, desire to “play in the dirt,” she said. Together, they’ve developed the orchard into a budding agritourism destination in the already tourism-rich Palisade. They host events on the property, run a full-service kitchen and coffee shop and participate in local ag events. The farm stand also travels around Colorado and out-of-state to sell fruit. But even with all this, the thing she’s most proud of is her family’s involvement on the orchard she and Fritz Zadrozny started building decades ago.
Zadrozny or Skaer are always around somewhere, in the orchards, the shop, at the market or in the walk-in refrigerator packaging their products. Zadrozny’s daughter, Kendra, lives at the orchard and she and her husband, Ken, work there every day. Several of Zadrozny’s grandkids help at the farmers markets. Even 5-year-old great-granddaughter Hallie helps, selling peaches to customers and learning about the different products on hand.
Farming — and farming with the family — has always been part of Zadrozny’s life. Her family homesteaded in Delta County and was very involved in water rights issues from the time they settled. Zadrozny learned all about irrigation and water from her grandfather, and now, she serves on the Mesa County Conservation Board.
For her, agriculture has always been about serving others.
After spending the weekend at the Palisade Peach Festival earlier this summer, she said she wasn’t concerned with whether she’d gained revenues, publicity or the future customers. She was just happy she’d gotten to see people enjoy her peaches.
“We’re very proud of them,” she said. “That’s why we do this.”
On Oct. 9, Z’s Orchard held its annual Raspberry Day, where families came out for a free visit to the farm and pick berries by the basket in the farm’s 3-acre berry patch. It’s one of Zadrozny’s favorite weekends of the year, she said, because it’s an opportunity for people to come out and enjoy fall in the orchard.
She listed off a few of the crops Palisade is known for — peaches, grapes, lavender — then smiled and asked why anyone would live elsewhere. Her little town is a gift, she said.
“We feel blessed to have 20 acres to steward and share,” she said. “I never get tired of seeing these beautiful peaches harvested. We love what we do.” ❖