Walk into Roan Creek Ranch Grocery on any given Friday, and you will be greeted by Jim Ash, a Grand Valley old-timer, with a warm and welcoming smile. Fridays are this retired printer’s day to mind the store; his daughter Coleen Kyle tends the shop Monday through Thursday, and owner Kathryn Bedell typically works Saturdays. “I offered my time to help in order to get out of the house, but I’m enjoying seeing all the folks that I haven’t seen since high school,” Ash, a 1959 Grand Junction High School graduate, tells me as a young mountain biker purchases an onion from him. It appears all generations – locals and out-of-towners alike – have discovered this Fruita, Colorado gem. Here, like the town itself, old-timers meld comfortably with the edgier younger set.
Roan Creek Ranch Grocery resides in a nondescript building on the corner of Circle Park and Aspen Avenue, the main drag of Fruita – a small community less than thirty miles from the Colorado-Utah border. Reminiscent of yesteryear’s small family-owned grocery store, Roan Creek offers meats, honey, cheeses, milk, seasonings, condiments, fish, produce, gift baskets, and bulk specials. Mouth-watering sausages such as Pork Blueberry Spicy Sausage and Apple Cinnamon Pork Sausage share the freezer shelves with rib steaks, pork loin chops, fresh brats, and peppercorn bacon. Cheeses and milk occupy a smaller freezer. Honey, seasonings, vinegar, applesauce and a variety of non-refrigerated foods can be found on the surrounding shelves. Everything sold in the store is produced in Colorado. Roan Creek is a no-frills, very clean, neighborhood store.
There’s something comforting about locally produced food. In an era of big box stores and corporate distribution, knowing that food is raised by nearby farmers and ranchers with some skin in the game promises a fresher, safer, more sustainable food supply. These producers are stewards of the land and livestock – some families have been growing or raising food for generations. Kathryn Bedell, owner of the grocery store and Roan Creek Ranch, is no exception. Educated as a large animal veterinarian, she is well versed in the grazing and familial habits of her livestock. Her college classes promoted raising cattle as big and as fast as possible to “feed the world.” Since then, she’s turned to a more holistic way of ranching. Raising healthy, happy animals in a natural environment with minimal stress has become her priority. Dr. Bedell explains, “When we handle or move the animals they are treated humanely and quietly so they are not stressed. We raise happy livestock.” Bedell does not use artificial fertilizers, pesticides or growth hormones in her food production.
Bedell’s ranch is located on owned and leased properties in Mesa and Garfield counties and the cattle are moved with the seasons for optimal grazing and weather.
Raised in southern California, Bedell landed on the Western Slope after receiving her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of California-Davis. Last year, Bedell showed her appreciation for Fruita when she hosted a community dinner where she donated her grass-fed beef ribs for the 250 residents who attended. Bedell participates in monthly Fruita Fourth Fridays when there’s art, live music, plus street food, and many businesses remain open during the evening. Bedell also contributes to the community by sitting on the Downtown Advisory Board.
For healthy, local foods visit Roan Creek Ranch Grocery, located at 119 East Aspen Avenue. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.