Sunflower Farmers Market founder takes local produce personally

10/14/2009 10:21:11 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Mike Gilliand gets his hands dirty to get local produce.

The founder and chief executive officer of Boulder, Colo.-based Sunflower Farmers Market started his own organic farm to provide fresh produce to his stores.

According to media reports, once fully up and running, the 40-acre farm could supply up to 5% of his stores’ fresh produce during its peak season.

Courtesy Sunflower Farmers Market

Gilliand's farm supplied aurgula, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, peppers, radishes, squash, turnips and lettuce in its first year.

In its first year, plantings near Longmont, Colo., totaled about two acres.

Next year, according to an article in the Denver Post, the retailer plans to expand to 12 acres plus 4,000 square feet of greenhouse, powered by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Gilliand told the Post the idea of the farm isn’t to be a major supplier. Instead, it is more of a teaching tool for the chain.

“Eventually, we’d like to conduct tours and hold workshops there on organic farming and sustainability issues,” he said. “While we hope this project eventually will turn a profit, that wasn’t the primary impetus for the idea.”

This year’s crops included arugula, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, peppers, radishes, squash, turnips and lettuce.

Sunflower Farmers Market has 27 stores in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Texas under the Sunflower Farmers Market and Newflower Farmers Market banners.

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