If you’ve purchased Grand Valley produce from local fruit stands or farmers markets, or at the farmers market in Craig or Glenwood Springs or a farm stand almost anywhere in the entire state in the past 50 years, the chances are good you’ve enjoyed vegetables grown by the DeVries family.
Bill and LeEyla DeVries, who are 80 and 79 respectively, bought their original East Orchard Mesa farm in 1966.
Shauna, the youngest of their three children, was a toddler at the time, and Bill worked full time as a lineworker for the power company and farmed on the side.
Most of the original DeVries acreage was planted in apples. The first year he bought his orchard, a freeze killed most of the buds, so he had no crop.
He rented nearby land and began growing vegetables. He bought adjoining acreage when he could, and after eight years, he tore out the apples on his original land and devoted himself to growing more vegetables.
About the same time, he quit working for the power company to farm full time.
“I’m not really content working a job,” Bill said.
The DeVries family started the Craig farmers market — Bill couldn’t recall exactly the year it began — and Bill and one of his children used to make the weekly trip to Craig to run the market.
At first, the market was a two-day event, so they’d spend one night at a motel.
“We’ve been the farmers market there (in Craig) for 50 years,” Bill said.
He and Shauna DeVries still make the drive to Craig, although the market is just a one-day event now.
The DeVries family also was a driving force to get the Glenwood Springs farmers market started about 35 years ago, and Bill and Shauna still attend that one, as well.
“I’m the truck driver in the family,” said Shauna, who has worked alongside her father all her life.
Her brother, Stacey, is the chile roaster and tractor driver.
In addition to going to the Glenwood Springs and Craig markets, Shauna drives a truck full of produce to Denver once a week during the growing season.
Over the years, the DeVries family has been involved in several of the various Grand Junction markets, as well as the one in Aspen.
For decades, DeVries Farm Market had a produce stand at the corner of 32 Road and C Road on East Orchard Mesa.
When the opportunity came to sell the site and make a nice profit that would enable the couple, who were then in their 60s, to retire, they decided to take it.
However, retirement didn’t sit too well with them, and they decided to build a new farm store on their farm at 3149 C Road.
In the spring and early summer, the farm store carries garlic, peas, beets and squash grown on their farm, as well as a few bedding plants, jams, jellies, honey and beans.
As summer progresses, the peas and cool-weather crops give way to tomatoes, peppers, melons, winter squash and other late-season crops.
In addition to going to farmers markets and selling at their farm store, the family sells wholesale to stores and other markets across the state.
Their store has a large loading dock in back, where it’s not uncommon to find a truck picking up produce or dropping off items that aren’t grown on their farm, such as pinto beans or syrup.
After decades building and maintaining ties and connections, the DeVries family continues to make sure Grand Valley produce gets in the hands and on the plates of those who want it.