Every Saturday at 4:30 a.m. Steve Ela packs up his apples for their five-hour journey through the mountains.
The destination: the Larimer County Farmerâ€™s Market in Old Town Fort Collins.
Ela, the owner of Ela Family Farms, sells apples from his family-owned orchards in Grand Junction at the market, their shiny skins joining an array of fresh produce, fragrant flowers and other small business vendors selling in-season goods and whatever the locals will buy on Saturday mornings.
â€œWe start with Sansa apples and finish with Fuji,â€ he said about his farm located in Hotchkiss, which Ela calls the â€œthriving metropolis of 800 peopleâ€ southeast of Grand Junction.
â€œItâ€™s always good here. Habit is good. We make fewer mistakes,â€ Ela said.
Ela works his stand with a few other people who also work at the farm and is always at the same specific location.
Along with the 22 different varieties of apples Elaâ€™s farm sells, it also sells pears, peaches, jams, fruit butter, apple sauces, dried fruit and cider.
Melaney Miller, of Miller Farms, also participates in the farmerâ€™s market with her family, selling produce.
â€œWeâ€™ve been around since 1949 and have over 800 acres. The land is all for produce and alfalfa,â€ Miller said.
Their business remains family-owned and they take part in almost every other farmerâ€™s market in the state. Their stock for the summer and fall months vary, but it now includes different kinds of squashes and beans.
Nikol Schwab, a local small business owner and entrepreneur, also attends the Farmerâ€™s Markets every Saturday where she sells meatballs and potica bread, an Italian sweet bread that she makes in both chocolate and apple cinnamon. She owns and operates the local restaurant The Little Italian Kitchen.
â€œI love to cook and grew up in an Italian family where 20 of us sat around a table. I figured, why not share my food and my experience,â€ Schwab said.
After moving to Fort Collins eight years ago, she decided to start her own restaurant six years ago and has been going to this Farmerâ€™s Market for that long.
â€œI started by my business with potica bread and then it grew,â€ Schwab said.
Staff Writer Kari Pills can be reached at news.collegian.com.
Farmerâ€™s Market is located at:
-200 W. Oak Street
Fort Collins, CO 80521
-Itâ€™s only open for two more Saturdays. Saturday Oct. 9 and 16.
-For more information on local Farmerâ€™s Markets visit: localharvest.org