Sen. Michael Bennet with Alicia Michelsen
From Mckenzie Moore, Delta County Independent staff writer
Since starting in May of this year, the Arbol Farm Market in Paonia has been providing locally grown, organic food to the community in addition to helping local farmers, growers and craftspeople find a venue. With an open-air setting on the working farm, it’s a safe and unique place for the community to connect and support each other.
Although the original idea to start the market didn’t include a pandemic, it ultimately filled a need in the community due to changing demographics and increased food insecurity during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“We didn’t know that was how it was going to be, but it’s turned out to be a really positive thing because there’s no safer place to shop,” said Arbol Farm owner and spearhead for the market Caren von Gontard. “The fact they can shop in an open air farm in the sunshine — and we have half an acre’s worth of stalls, not a city block, not crammed into really tight spaces. The vendors can be spread out and people can stay distant from one another.”
One of the main focuses of the Arbol Farm Market is to reach out to people who are most in need of food. It has received grants to be able to provide meals by donation (or for free, for those most in need) and are working with area food pantries and nonprofits to expand the reach of its meal program to vulnerable populations.
Kitchen volunteers are welcome to assist in the Market’s dinner prep. Contact Alicia at email@example.com!