For two years, Cortez residents have enjoyed the fruits of Rusty and Laurie Halls labor in the form of flavorful soups and salads at The Farm.
In a tiny storefront on Main Street, the Halls have turned their passion for local agriculture and an overabundance of produce from Seven Meadows Farm into a favorite lunch-time dining option for locals and in so doing have provided healthy, local nourishment for the masses. Now, with a larger space and expanded hours, the Halls are using their restaurant to provide opportunities for other small farms to bring their produce to the people.
Saturday, The Farm opened in its new space, 34 W. Main St., Cortez, sandwiched between Stonefish Sushi and More and Pepperhead. The new location has opened a world of opportunities for the restaurant and its owners.
We are really excited about the space. It is beautiful, and it creates kind of a restaurant row downtown, said Laurie Hall. We are planning to incorporate a much bigger farm stand at the new space, and on a regular basis we will have produce from several local farmers, not just our own farm. That is really going to be a much larger feature of the restaurant.
The restaurant and farm stand will have expanded hours to make it easier for locals to have access to fresh produce. The Farm will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for dining, and the farm stand will be open until 5:30 p.m.
Hall said the expansion is exciting and unexpected given the entire concept of The Farm grew from an extra large lettuce harvest.
We had a surplus of lettuce, and we really had too much and thought we would start a little salad business out of our farm, Hall said. We started making deliveries, and it took off pretty quickly. The restaurant turned out to be a place people loved to hang out and just be.
The biggest complaint facing The Farm was a lack of space. The original space, 18 E. Main St., barely had room for four tables.
I guess that is a good complaint to have, Hall said. We did something right.
The new space will have more seating, and it will enable the Halls to add to their workforce, possibly increasing the size of their staff to eight, a large change from the days when the couple did everything themselves.
But the most exciting feature of the new Farm for the Halls is the expansion of the farm stand. A range of local food will be available at the stand, all fresh and all seasonal. Value-added products, such as local honey, will be available from time to time.
Hall said the new services at The Farm will fill a niche in Cortez.
We have the Dolores Food Market in Dolores, which does a great job, and Zuma in Mancos, but Cortez doesnt have a place to buy local produce, and it should, she said. The local food movement is growing everywhere across the country, and people are becoming more aware of where their food comes from. If people have a choice and it is affordable, they will go to that.
Local grower Mary Vozer, co-owner of Confluence Farm, said small farmers appreciate the effort the Halls have put into bringing fresh food to Cortez.
We all really want to see them succeed because they are taking the risk and they are taking it for all of us, Vozer said. It is a great concept and it will really be a benefit to the community.
Though it may seem counterintuitive for a business to open its doors to competitors, the Halls do not view the farm stand in those terms.
If we are going to have more customers for local foods, we need to not be competitive with each other; we should be comrades, Hall said. We should be working together to grow better and bigger and bring more people in and get more customers. We cant grow enough for 15,000 people. A lot of people are going to have to grow a lot of food to feed everyone here. We are just part of the bigger picture.
The Farm is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for dining and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the farm stand.
For more information, call 565-3834.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at email@example.com.