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Borderline Farms: Wellton's farm-to-fork hot spot
On a bright crisp Saturday morning, Frances Smith and her husband, winter visitors from Saskatchewan, wandered into Borderline Farms, Wellton's only outlet for local produce.
Smith carefully checked out the crates where locally grown lettuce, spinach, celery and carrots were casually displayed. She grabbed carrots, blackberries and bunches of pencil-thin asparagus spears. She shook the asparagus ever so gently just to make her point.
“These are delish,” she said.
Borderline Farms is the quintessential mom-and-pop operation. The shop, a low-slung sandy-colored building, is no-frills: card tables stacked with crates, handwritten signs and a bulletin board with local announcements.
But this ultra-low-key operation is also strong proof that the ultra-trendy locavore movement, often found in big cities like Manhattan or Boston, is alive and well right here in Yuma County.
“It's nothing fancy but a lot of people like to shop here,” said Bob Enders, owner of Borderline Farms.
Enders, who also works as a harvest supervisor for Betteravia Farms, knows produce. He's been working fields for two decades and dabbles in farm-related real estate.
He bought the corner lot a few years ago and at first just sold broccoli, cauliflower and other veggies on the roadside.
“It went really well,” said Enders. So well, he decided to expand the outfit “to sell as much local stuff as we possibly could.”
He fixed up an existing building and added specialty items like citrus, pomegranates, blackberries, green beans, asparagus, softball-size cantaloupe, squash, peppers and even two kinds of Yuma honey to his inventory.
“This is the first year in our building,” said Enders. “And it's flourishing.”
Linn DeSalvo calls herself a Welltonian and loves to shop at Borderline Farms, where she stocks up on onions and other greens “since veggies are my mainstay. It also saves me a trip into Yuma.”
The demand for local food is being fueled by people like DeSalvo and Vi Haynes, who came in recently for some grapes and returned a few days later for more.
Haynes lives in Wellton's Pioneer Park and hails from Alberta. With a detectable Canadian accent, she smiled and said how nice it was to get locally grown items and support the community.
People who subscribe to the locavore movement choose to purchase locally grown food over trucked in produce with high ‘“food miles.”
The food, according to locavores, tastes far better and is more nutritious than similar items from the grocery store — some of which might spend months in modified atmospheres before winding up on store shelves.
And while the locavore scene is trendy in big cities, folks like DeSalvo and Haynes don't buy at Borderline because it's in vogue. They buy because it's garden-fresh and the reality is that if they didn't support it, they'd be forced to buy at bigger stores where food is more costly.
And with hand-bagged packs of local spinach for 75 cents and thick asparagus bunches for $1, Borderline is a whopping 18 to 35 percent cheaper than most chains.
Even the items brought in from nearby farms in California like potatoes, strawberries and grapes were less expensive than their store-bought counterparts and undoubtedly fresher.
Enders even delivers to a few restaurants and vendors in Yuma using a small trailer that he pulls with his personal vehicle.
“They order Tuesday and it arrives on Wednesday.”
Borderline won't be around during the summer, mostly because the winter visitors flee Yuma at the first sign of heat. “When it gets too hot too, we shut down,” said Enders. He thinks they'll stay open until the first of March.
Smith and her husband paid for the produce and slowly walked out together. Enders asked if they were cooking something special with their stash of veggies.
“Nothing in particular,” said Smith. “We're just going to eat it.”
Sounds like a good idea.