Against the backdrop of a bare, once well-known storefront, canopy stands bearing phrases like “Palisade Peaches” and “Todd's Heirloom Tomatoes and Produce” have taken up shop in the parking lot.
It's the Centennial Farmers Market, just steps away from the former Albertsons at South University Boulevard and East Dry Creek Road, and it takes place Wednesdays through the end of October.
“The city said it would be good for the community,” said Gary Hartshorn, of Gourmet Gary's Natural Food, who helped organize the farmers market.
Centennial City Councilmember Kathy Turley pushed for the market taking that location, reaching out to the company that owns the shopping center, said Todd Smith, who goes by “Tomato Todd.” Eventually, Smith and Hartshorn had the green light. Before, the partners had a farmers market at the Lutheran church near East Arapahoe Road and University Boulevard for about four years, but they needed a new space.
The city has been looking to bring energy to its neighborhood shopping centers, some of which are home to empty former stores. For Smith, it was a perfect opportunity.
“We're definitely not farmers for the money,” Smith said. “It's about a service for the community. It's very rewarding when people come and thank you for growing the produce.”
Hartshorn's business sells Colorado-raised, grass-fed beef, and Smith grows microgreens, lettuce, squash and other produce.
For Elizabeth Latham, who lives near Arapahoe High School, the market's new location was just what she needed.
“You can't buy good tomatoes in the store, even if you go to Whole Foods and pay $10 for them,” said Latham, 70, who moved from Glenwood Springs about a year ago to take care of her grandchildren.
“I'll be here every week until they stop coming,” Latham said.
The market began Aug. 7 and is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays at 7424 S. University Blvd.
Its website also lists locations in Evergreen, Greenwood Village, Southlands outdoor mall in Aurora and in downtown Parker. Visit the web page for times and details.
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