We are fortunate to have several farms in our region that provide us with fresh, nutritious, organically grown produce. One of these is Early Morning Orchard, a four-season organic vegetable farm and stone fruit orchard in Palisade, Colorado (about 73 miles from Moab as the crow flies). They grow 6 acres of vegetables and 10 acres of fruits on their farm, including their famous Palisade peaches. They are a small-scale wholesale-sales only farm that partners with a handful of specialty farm stores, fruit stands, restaurants, and food pantries in western Colorado, and of course with Moonflower Co-op.
Early Morning Orchard was purchased in 2009 by Skip Doty, who still runs the farm today with operations manager Kaye Davis and head grower Kasey Weingarten. Skip’s vision was to provide the highest quality, most nutrient dense produce year round to the local community, a need he saw wasn’t being met when he first started the farm. Kaye has been dedicated to creating a sustainable and secure local food system for the last twenty years and believes in supporting farmers who practice sustainable land management practices, build soil, and provide nutritious food for their community. She has worked as a farm chef, private chef, farmer, and farm manager over the years and is also the Produce Buyer for Skip’s Farm to Market, the retail partner of the farm. Kasey is responsible for overseeing the four season vegetable operation on the farm. She worked as Early Morning’s Assistant Grower in 2019 and became the Head Grower this year. She earned a degree in sustainable agriculture from Colorado Mesa University in 2020 and also has a degree in culinary arts.
When Skip purchased Early Morning Orchard in 2009, the property originally had two orchards on it; one with two-year-old trees that were not yet producing fruit, and one with old, diseased trees that were no longer producing. Those trees were removed the following year, when Skip also began building greenhouses and establishing fields for vegetable production. The farm now grows all kinds of vegetables year-round in greenhouses, caterpillar tunnels, and fields, and stone fruits such as peaches, plums, pluots, and nectarines in their orchard. Just this year they began growing table grapes and berries as well.
Early Morning Orchard’s mission also includes practicing beyond organic growing methods to grow the highest quality foods and to ensure the sustainability of the land. They focus on growing crops specifically for the needs of their clients that are beautiful, delicious, and nutritious. The farm also serves as a training ground for young farmers and chefs who are interested in getting involved in the local food movement.
Skip created his Farm to Market farm stores in Basalt and Fruita as well as Skip’s Farm to Market Summer Fruit Stands in Buttermilk and Carbondale as another market to support local, sustainable and regional farming, ranching, and food processing practices. These also serve as access points for people to find fresh, nutrient dense local food year round. The farm also partners with local food banks and chefs of several restaurants. In 2020, they began growing for local food pantries and partnering with Lift Up Rifle and Summit Family Intercultural Resource Center in Silverthorne to administer their Farm to Food Pantry Programs. They coordinate with other Colorado farmers and ranchers to provide quality locally sourced food for their clients.
Our mutually beneficial relationship with Early Morning Orchard provides them with a predictable market and our patrons with a regular supply of their fresh, beautiful produce year round. By supporting our local growers and producers, we keep our money in the community, increase our food security, build relationships and resilience, and promote sustainable farming practices.