When Elizabeth Plummer purchased Homestead Market in Paonia last January, she envisioned increasing the number of locally-produced products.
Homestead Market was established in 2001 as a locally owned and operated co-op of six ranching families operating under the name Colorado Homestead Ranches. Homestead carried local beef, bison, elk and lamb, and home-style frozen entriees, as well as seafood and other specialty items. A blend of locally and regionally produced products, including wines, canned goods, crafts, wool blankets and handmade candles lined the shelves (Homestead still operates as Homestead Meats and is located in Delta.)
Plummer, who has a passion for all things local, changed the name to Lizzy's Market and began reaching out to the community to expand the market's local lines of products.
"It's been a whirlwind," said Plummer, who since taking over the business has worked 14-hour days and juggled her time between Lizzy's, refurbishing a Victorian house and constructing 12 raised garden beds to feed her organic lifestyle and stock the cooler with freshly-harvested greens.
And she's just getting started.
Since January, Lizzy's has added fresh salads to go, sushi (no raw fish) on Mondays and spring rolls on Fridays, and has a customer base in the Roaring Fork Valley, including high-end restaurants and the Snowmass farmers' market. Plummer hopes to introduce an in-house line of sausages. When hunting season opens in August, "we will continue the Homestead tradition of wild game processing."
Plummer, the daughter of a Bahamian mother and Bostonian father, made her way to Colorado by way of Virginia, Ohio University and Colorado State University, where she graduated in 1979 with a degree in animal science. Her life's passion is show horses, and for 35 years she managed a show horse stable in Wellington, Fla. The last 15 years she's held a realtor's license.
With the exception of a seven-year gig as a vet tech while she grew the stable business to a full-time job, "I've never really worked for anyone else," said Plummer.
But the stable business wasn't all that stable and the environment changed. "It just wasn't where I wanted to be anymore. I always wanted to come back to Colorado," said Plummer. "It's a great environment for horses."
On the suggestion of a former Florida neighbor now living in Paonia, she visited the area and spotted a nice Victorian for sale on Lamborn Mesa. But she needed to do something if she moved here.
Fast forward a few years, Homestead went on the market, that Victorian was still available, "and here we are."
Lizzy's is now open seven days a week. Homestead employees Joyce Laux and Kristi Sanchez remain on the staff, and two new employees have been added, with plans for additional hiring in the future.
The market currently carries items by more than a dozen Delta County-based companies, as well as locally roasted coffees and an expanded line of frozen entrees made on site. It also carries seasonal local produce, meats and a selection of Homestead Meats products. Lizzy's eggs come from Dorothy Kuretich's chickens.
A grower and consumer of local and organic foods for the last 30 years, she sees stores that carry locally grown and produced products as the wave of the future.
"Being in a science background, I really see the benefit of growing your own food and not using pesticides," and that years of conventionally-produced foods are taking a toll on health and health care costs, said Plummer. "I believe more people will wake up to how beneficial it is to one's health and environment."
Thanks to the efforts of state Rep. Millie Hamner, House District 61, Colorado State University plans to re-open the Rogers Mesa research site.
The facility was taken out of operation in 2011, due to budget cuts throughout the CSU system.