Mild spring delivers bumper crop of goodies
The masses that strolled up and down Grand Junction’s Main Street on Thursday for the first ANB Bank Farmers’ Market were greeted by more fruits and vegetables than in past years.
Not only was there more produce to choose from, but more farms were represented, said George Rossman, coordinator of the annual market for the Downtown Development Authority.
Of the 76 booths sold for opening day—nearly a full complement—nine were from area farms and orchards, she said.
“That’s the most I’ve seen in the seven years I’ve been coordinating this event,” she said.
Several of the farmers credited the region’s hot, dry weather with the earlier-than-normal season for several items, from cherries to rutabagas.
“We never had a spring. We went from winter right into summer,” said Kenny Sowell, who operates Sowell Orchards in Palisade with his wife, Chris. “Last year on the first day, we had peas and garlic. This year, we have almost everything.”
The Sowells said the warmer weather caused them to plant early, in the first week of April. Normally, they don’t put down seeds until the end of that month.
As a result, nearly everything is about two weeks early.
“If things stay the way they are, we’ll be done by early August,” he said. “Being early doesn’t concern me. It’s when we’re late that can cause problems.”
An early finish is fine with Kenny Sowell. It’ll give him more time to go hunting in the fall, he said.
Karen Massey with Bikki’s Orchard in Palisade said the farm has more cherries and apricots than she’s sure what to do with.
She said those fruits often produce sporadically over several years, and this is definitely a bumper year.
Massey said that while the tomatoes aren’t in quite yet, there’s plenty of squash, zucchini, peas, radishes, onions and beets, to name a few.
Oh, and apricots. Plenty of apricots, Massey stressed.
“I’m just trying to figure out how much jam I should make,” she said.
The market is held downtown on Main Street every Thursday for the next 15 weeks. Hours are 5 to 8:30 p.m.
The event also includes live music, food and several booths selling everything from art to jewelry.