La Junta & Rocky Ford, Colorado

  • Interviews By
  • Allison Sherry
  • Photos By
  • Alex Scoville
  • Map
La Junta Sign
Alex Scoville/CPR News

A deteriorating billboard advertising mail-order hearing aids in La Junta on Thursday, Aug. 30. While not to the same extreme as the Front Range, increasing rents here have also begun to price out long-time residents.

Otero County Commissioner 1
Alex Scoville/CPR News

Candy bags, local produce and nuts brought back by the local football team after a trip to Texas pile up on a desk at the Otero County Commissioners office, Thursday, Aug. 30. Commissioner Kevin Karney said during budget time, departments drop off treats to (literally) sweeten the pot.

Otero County Commissioner 2
Alex Scoville/CPR News

Otero County Commissioner Kevin Karney points out the route to his favorite fruit stand on a map in the commissioners’ office on Thursday, Aug. 30. Farm markets are common along Highway 50 between La Junta and toward Pueblo. Karney, a La Junta native, has served as a county commissioner for 20 years alongside running his cow-calf business. Major issues for Otero County in Karney’s eyes are more drug-related crimes.

Rocky Ford Farm Markets 1
Alex Scoville/CPR News

Ripe cantaloupes for sale at Sackett’s Farm Market on Thursday, Aug. 30. Melons are the most popular crop to grow in the Rocky Ford area, and the record heat has actually benefited the fruit. Flavors are richer and smells are stronger when melons grow in hot weather.

Rocky Ford Farm Markets 2
Alex Scoville/CPR News

Sacket’s Farm Market along Highway 50 outside of Rocky Ford on Thursday, Aug. 30. Easily a dozen fruit stands dot the road between La Junta and Pueblo, offering mountains of melons, chiles, honey and other products from local farmers. Agriculture and ranching are the major  industries in southeastern Colorado.

Rocky Ford Farm Markets 3
Alex Scoville/CPR News

A worker at Sacket’s Farm Market unloads dozens of cantaloupes from his truck bed into a cart on Thursday, Aug. 30. He knocks on each melon to test for ripeness.

Rocky Ford Farm Markets 4
Alex Scoville/CPR News

Customers browse at Knapp’s Farm Market, one of the most-established fruit stands along Highway 50 on Thursday, Aug. 30. Market co-owner Gail Knapp has to balance the number of her employees who are on H2A visas with her desire for stronger, common-sense immigration policies. Another major concern for her is a familiar one for many small business owners: How to pay for "the absurd cost of" health insurance.

Rocky Ford Farm Markets 5
Alex Scoville/CPR News

A pile of green chilies at Knapp’s Farm Market on Thursday, Aug. 30. Chilies are a staple in southeastern Colorado, and Knapp’s will even roast your peppers for a small fee.

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