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“Farm fresh from the grocer’s backyard” sounds like a catchy tag line for a supermarket chain, but in Mike Gilliland’s case, he’s not only talking the talk, but also walking the walk. Gilliland, CEO and founder of Boulder, Colo.-based Sunflower Farmers Market, has planted his own backyard farm to augment the produce in its 27 stores across the west and southwest United States.
While Gilliland’s farm is admittedly small, his idea is anything but, in light of its abilities to enhance Sunflower’s business model with two critical components: quality control and lower costs. Gilliland first sowed the seeds of Sunflower’s proprietary farm last year in Longmont, Colo., where he remodeled the home on property on which he and his family now reside. The farm’s most productive crops include arugula, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, peppers, radishes, squash, turnips and various lettuces.
Not surprisingly, Gilliland’s whole family is part of the farm-fresh philosophy. Having been given a pair of baby goats for his most recent birthday by his kids, Gilliland — who founded Sunflower Farmers Market in 2002 after building the former Wild Oats Market into a success story that was eventually sold to Whole Foods Market — expects to triple the size of his fledgling farm with the addition of a wind- and solar-powered greenhouse.
For more information, visit www.sfmarkets.com.