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Area supermarkets add PlacerGrown fruit stand

Display features Twin Peaks’ peaches, nectarines and plums
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Enjoying locally cultivated fruit just got even more convenient. Auburn’s Bel Air supermarket has installed a PlacerGrown “fruit stand” loaded with wooden crates of peaches, nectarines and plums piled high near the store’s entrance. There’s also a stand in the Lincoln Raley’s and displays will be arriving soon at Raley’s in Loomis and Auburn, according to Amy Johnston, communications specialist for Raley’s. The mix of stone fruits comes from Twin Peaks Orchard in Newcastle, a family farm since 1912, run by Sheila and Raul Enriquez. The Enriquez family has worked the land for 30-plus years, taking over from Sheila’s parents. Their 85 acres produce peaches, plums, nectarines, pluots, oriental pears and persimmons. Twin Peaks Orchard is a staple at farmers’ markets in Auburn, Lincoln, Colfax and Reno. The Enriquez family also sells to Sacramento stores as well as markets in Sonoma County. “We were looking for more outlets for our fruit,” Sheila Enriquez said Monday about the Raley’s contract. Getting their produce into the supermarket chain involved some preparation. “There’s a whole list of criteria when you’re working with large places,” Enriquez said. Nancyjo Riekse, Placer County agricultural marketing director, worked closely with Twin Peaks and Raley’s to complete the process to create another site for local farmers to showcase and sell their wares. “We put them in touch with Twin Peaks,” she said of Raley’s. “They sent out people to inspect (the farm), because an inspection is required to see that they meet all the criteria. I worked with (produce supervisor) Rich Mott to sign up with PlacerGrown to distribute and use the signage and get (the produce) set in the stores.” Riekse is enthusiastic about opening up even more opportunities to showcase local agriculture. “We’re starting off with the one and will start adding other growers so they can put their products in there also,” she said. “So it is just the beginning.” PlacerGrown fruits and vegetables, as well as locally bottled sauces and jams have been available at Whole Foods Market on Arden Way in Sacramento since last year and will be in the new Whole Foods store opening in Roseville, Riekse said. “Tony Aguilar (at Highland Orchards) supplies mandarins in the fall and supplied them last year, too,” she said. Stocking locally grown items is nothing new for Raley’s, which has 130 stores (including Bel Air, Nob Hill and Food Source). In fact, the spring edition of the grocery chain’s magazine focused on regional products including cheese from Petaluma, Point Reyes and Modesto; olive oil from Corning and mushrooms from Colusa. “We support local products wherever possible,” Johnston said. “So we are excited to have even more to offer.” Initial response to the PlacerGrown stone fruits has been positive. “They’re already well received by customers,” Johnston said. “So far it has been going very well and customers are noticing it. They stand out and it’s from the local community and it’s something new to try.” In Downtown Auburn, Kris Fieseler at Wildflower is pleased to have more places to buy local goods. “We always try to shop locally,” she said. “We always try to find California companies to buy from (for the store).” For Carol Arnold, general manager of the Foothill Farmers’ Market Association, it broadens the opportunities for growers. “It is wonderful to live in a time when corporations are starting to give the local farmer a chance,” she said in an e-mail. “The more opportunities the farmers have to sell their produce, the more they will be able to grow. We are trying to send a strong message to our communities to eat local and to start now. This is one more way for people to purchase locally grown produce and to begin or continue to support local agriculture. The farmers, consumers and corporations all benefit from this kind of collaboration.” Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at AuburnJournal.com.