Colorado State University Helps Local Fresh Market Build Connections Between Local Ag and Community Consumers

A new fresh market will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 22 at 1001 E Harmony Road as part of a Colorado State University Cooperative Extension effort to build connections between local agricultural producers and community consumers. The market, which promotes farms and businesses in the area, will carry more than 1,000 regionally-produced food such as meats, cheeses, baked goods, cut flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits.

The Colorado Harmony Market is a unique combination of a locally-owned cooperative, a locally owned food-service company and a meat department stocked by a Weld County family farm. Consumers at the market can purchase memberships to the cooperative, while producer-members will provide access to locally-grown food. Two anchor businesses, Fiona’s Delicatessen and Long’s Family Farms, also will provide local products within the market. The market will also offer educational information about food and food production to the public as well as social and cultural events through the Harmony Farmer’s Foundation, a non-profit a group that organized the market.

"The concept of the Colorado Harmony Market is borne from the university’s outreach commitment to improve the profitability of Colorado agribusinesses, as well as agribusinesses in neighboring states," said Dawn Thilmany, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension specialist.

The Harmony Cooperative within the market will carry regionally-grown, natural and organic produce and dairy foods, frozen and bulk foods, body care products and nutritional supplements. Anyone can shop at the market, regardless of whether or not they are a member, but members receive benefits such as special discounts, member specials and an annual refund when the cooperative is profitable.

Fiona’s Delicatessen will provide deli, bakery and catered selections created with regionally-raised food. The delicatessen plans to create several new foods such as sauces, desserts and deli-meats based on Colorado products, and has been creating menus based on Colorado food for several years in their Old Town location.

Long’s Family Farms, a locally-owed business, will provide antibiotic and hormone-free meat selections within the market. The family will sell pork produced on their farm and regionally-raised beef, lamb, poultry and bison, as well as fresh seafood from the United States.

"This is one example of how Cooperative Extension provides educational programs to assist clientele in marketing, evaluation of pricing strategies, consumer targeting and developing niche markets. Our role was to help the market become a reality; when it opens, it will be operated with support from the consumers and producers who join the participating cooperative and along with the two community businesses," said Thilmany.

In addition to fresh groceries and an emphasis on supporting local farmers and ranchers and businesses, the Harmony Market will include a community center that will house special events and classes, such as cooking classes, natural health classes, field trips, programs on local agricultural production, courses about marketing agricultural products, food and wine tastings, chef competitions and performances by local musicians. Members of the cooperative will receive special rates on events.

"The market improves the access that regional producers have to the consumer, and increases the availability of locally-produced food to local residents," said Thilmany. "The market is a result of a partnership between the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, the university and American Farmland Trust, as well as other individuals and organizations that have an interest in supporting regional food production."

The market will follow Colorado Proud standards, which outline labeling guidelines for food products grown, raised or processed in Colorado. In addition, the market will feature food from New Mexico and Wyoming.

All tenants in the market will donate one percent back to the market to fund various charitable missions and consumer education. Tenants also will participate in donations of food to local causes.

Consumers can join the Harmony Market Cooperative at full-share membership rate for a one-time investment of $200 per individual or family. Annual memberships are available for $25 per year. Member benefits include 10 percent discount days, daily member specials, an annual patronage refund, and discounts on community center events and classes.

Producers wanting to sell goods through the fresh market also should contact the cooperative.

For more information about joining or selling products through the Harmony Cooperative, contact or call 907-266-9500. For more information about the Harmony Farmers Foundation and Colorado State University’s programs at the market, call Dawn Thilmany at 970-491-7220 or e-mail