By Devin D. O'Leary
Silver Leaf Farms has been a locally owned source for fresh produce in Corrales for the past 12 years. The farm grows USDA Certified Organic and pesticide-free vegetables for local farmers’ markets, fine restaurants, premium grocers and schools located throughout the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area. The folks behind Silver Leaf Farms have been regular vendors at the Corrales Growers' Market as well as the Downtown Growers' Market in Robinson Park, providing hungry customers a year-round selection of seasonal favorites.
"For 12 years, aside from COVID, we haven't missed a farmer's market, rain or shine," says Elan Silverblatt-Buser, who co-owns Silver Leaf alongside his brother Aaron. But the COVID pandemic did force Silver Leaf and others small farmers to "change their models." When the farmer's markets shut down, Silverblatt-Buser saw a major increase in customers reaching out to the farm directly, looking for produce. So Silver Leaf moved into curbside pickup service. They set up in neighboring Milagro Vineyards and loaded boxes into customer car trunks as they drove through. That collaboration lasted "30 months." And even though farmers' markets are back, curbside pickup remains a strong part of the business.
But last week Silver Leaf Farms moved out of Milagro's wintry vineyard, opening the doors at The Farm Stand, a brand new retail space just down the street at 4206 Corrales Rd. To fill the space, they teamed up with Corrales pal Zach Smith of Candlestick Roasters. An old garage in the back has been converted into a coffee roastery, and Smith now sells small-batch coffee out of the storefront's inviting front room. "Other local vendors we're proud to have on the shelf with us" (as the enthusiastic Silverblatt-Buser puts it) have offered up other "high quality agricultural products" in the form of cheese, nuts, pickles and locally made kombucha (to name a few). Silver Leaf Farms' own brand of hot sauce and green chile peach jam is available for purchase. Silver Leaf Farms' old partners Milagro Vineyards have a fine selection of wines by the bottle. And although it's not exactly harvest season, shoppers can pick up winter squash, onions, radishes, fresh lettuce from Silver Farms' hydroponic greenhouse and sweet potatoes harvested from a field "right out in back here." The selection remains local, but variety is key. Silverblatt-Buser is gratified to share The Farm Stand with his fellow Corrales-area growers and manufactures and admits the business "wouldn't work if we were just selling tomatoes."
Touring around the freshly renovated property, the proud co-owner says the historic building most recently served as a lawyer's office and guesses it's 80 to 90 years old. "There's not a square wall in here," he says with smile (and just a trace of exhaustion). The Silver Farms folks spent about year getting it ready for the grand opening and managed to salvage much of the original material. The old tin roof, for example, was recycled into flower beds and ceiling tiles.
For now winter hours at The Farm Stand are Wednesday through Sunday, 8am to 3pm. Orders for produce can be placed online (milagrofarmstand.com) and picked up in person. Come spring, the owners hope to construct a greenhouse on the property for plant starts, flowers and more. They also plan to add more outdoor seating for evening wine tasting events courtesy of Milago Vineyards. "It's a nice place to buy produce," says Silverblatt-Buser. But he hopes people in the neighborhood will eventually come hang out, have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and just "enjoy the view."
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