Known for its delicious produce, extensive trail system and Mike, the headless chicken, the steadily growing city of Fruita is adding another exciting attraction for residents and tourists alike: FARM (Fruita Art Recreation Marketplace).
Located at 158 South Park Square in downtown Fruita, FARM is a community-centric project for Grand Valley creatives and artists to connect, sell their art and dive deep into their work, all under one roof.
FARM co-creators Alleghany Meadows and Gavin Brooke, alongside their committed team of architects, builders and designers, are in the beginning stages of sustainably renovating a 13,000-square-foot commercial building.
According to Brooke, the plan is to create 25 separate tenant spaces; five spaces dedicated to street front retail, ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,600 square feet, and 20 interior studios that range from 100 to 600 square feet.
The street front spaces will have operative glass garage doors, and the interior spaces will function similarly to traditional workspaces, with six private studios and 14 open studios that have partial height walls, according to Brooke. The space will also feature a mezzanine and common areas to encourage intentional community.
“We will actually emphasize a bit more presentation to the hallway, so that people have the opportunity to either show, display and/or possibly sell their wares,” Brooke said. “There will be a bit more emphasis on the marketplace part of this and on people’s ability to actually sell.”
FARM is not the first collaboration between Meadows and Brooke. In 2006, they co-created Studio for Arts + Works (S.A.W.) in Carbondale, a collaborative hub for artists in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“Over the years, I’ve started to realize how phenomenally important it is to our community and to myself to have [S.A.W.],” Meadows said. “So, Gavin and I have been trying to figure out something to do together.”
That moment happened serendipitously, while the duo and some friends were whitewater rafting through Westwater Canyon in September 2021. It was there that Meadows and Brooke realized they were simultaneously looking to buy property in Fruita.
“The seller didn’t actually want to list the building on any website that would be nationwide,” Meadows said. “They wanted it to go to somebody who would do something good for the community.”
After the first meeting, it was clear that FARM could support Grand Valley creatives, and that this vision would come to life in Fruita.
With construction underway, FARM is now quickly gathering tenants.
Sarah Wood, co-founder and head-brewer of Grand Jun Fermentation (GJF), was one of the first creatives to sign on as a FARM tenant. GJF is a jun kombucha company that uniquely ferments organic herbs, green tea and honey in barrels, Wood said. Since launching in May 2021, GJF has gained a strong following and Wood believes that now is the time to grow it.
“All of our values in the company really align with the FARM project,” Wood said. “Moving locations in year two of a small business isn’t necessarily always in the cards, but we know we have to take a leap of faith and that we’re going to make it work.”
In addition to her role as GJF front-woman, Wood, the former executive director of 5Points Adventure Film Festival and a current Fruita resident, will also serve as FARM’s manager.
Additional tenants at FARM include a diverse mix of professionals, such as Momentum Mountain Biking, fiber artist Julia Crocetto, symphony sheet writers, a wine bar proposal, a tintype photographer, painters, ceramists, a letterpress artist, a tattoo artist, a farm-to-table restaurant and more, Meadows said. Many of these creatives will offer educational opportunities to the public, in addition to retail.
By housing a dynamic group, the FARM team anticipates a synergistic experience that promotes artistic inclusivity and inspiration. “There are tons of creative folks and artists throughout the Grand Valley,” Meadows said. “They might have their own individual studios, but up until this type of project there hasn’t been a place similar to SAW, where 25 artists can all be in one space and interact with each other in a non-structured way.”
Emphasizing the desire to “keep Fruita uniquely Fruita”, Wood said that many decisions regarding FARM were crowdsourced directly from the community, and the community is already embracing FARM. “I’m really interested in when this becomes a natural part of the Fruita community … like a magic potion staple — a staple where a certain energy is available in these places that embodies what makes these places unique.”
FARM is set to open in the fall of 2022; interested tenants can contact email@example.com and curious fans can visit @farmfruita on Instagram to learn more about FARM’s progress.