MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KJCT)-- The state is nearing Colorado Proud month, a time when Coloradans honor and recognize local farmers and growers.
Colorado Proud is a program through the Colorado Department of Agriculture that promotes buying locally grown foods.
The organization said Colorado is one of the top agriculture states in the nation. The Grand Valley alone has over 385,000 acres of farmland.
“It’s just produced in local soil with love and care by people who love to till the soil and produce nourishing food for our community,” explained Carol Zadrozny, the owner of Z’s Orchards.
Many Western Slope farmers are part of the thousands in our state who are members of Colorado Proud. Farmers said local products just taste better.
“It’s fresher and riper,” Zadronzy said. “So if you buy a Palisade peach in the grocery store, it’s not the same as buying one that is picked that day off the tree and brought to market."
In 2012, the Census of Agriculture reported Mesa County brought over $84 million worth of agricultural products into our economy.
“If you took the farming economy away from here, there wouldn't be a lot left,” said Farmer Bob with Alida’s Fruits. “It’s the number one industry here. There are a lot of cattle, as well as farming, and of course the fruit and vegetable segment of it is substantial.”
The leafy greens farmers produce, bring even more green into the Valley.
“I notice that our economy is not growing as fast overall as other cities,” Zadrozny said. “However agriculture is always there. Oil and gas can come and go, other things come and go but agriculture is the foundation and roots and maintenance of our community in the valley."
The Grand Junction Economic Partnership says the agriculture industry is continuing to grow and bring other businesses to the Grand Valley.
“We are seeing an outcrop of hops. Hops are something that needs a lot of sunshine and water,” Kristi Pollard with GJEP said. “And as Colorado continues to grow with craft breweries, there is a greater need for hops in Mesa County.”
Colorado Proud produce and veggies will have a little round sticker to let you know they have been grown fresh right here in our state. Mesa County is ranked 21 out of 63 counties for our agriculture industry.