Roadside attraction refreshed |

Roadside attraction refreshed

Nicole Frey
Preston Utley/Vail DailyKoby Kenney, picks up a pear while shopping at the Eagle-Vail produce stand Wednesday in Eagle-Vail. The produce stand is open through the end of October.

EAGLE-VAIL – As Toucan Sam would say, “Follow your nose, it always knows.”When in close proximity to the Emerald Acres Farms Produce fruit stand on Eagle Road off state Highway 6, your nostrils may be enticed by the heavy perfume of ripe peaches. While the ownership of the landmark fruit stand recently changed, new owners Marilyn Jones and James Lukinich say they’ll continue to sell fresh Colorado produce, just as their predecessor Ivan Hoefer had done since 1987.Eagle-Vail resident Greg Chrisman was lured in last week. He picked out an apple and tomato, but alas, his nose betrayed him, and Chrisman ended up buying a pear as well. “Our produce tastes fresher; it’s real,” said Sarah Doyle, who works at the fruit stand and boasted the un-waxed fruit and vegetables are picked and brought to market on the same day.

At 69, former owner Hoefer said he wanted to get more out of his summers than simply selling produce.”It was getting to be too much for me,” he said. “Doing the stands, it’s seven days a week, and your summer is gone before you even have a chance to use it. I want to do a couple things before I get too old to do it.”Hoefer said he’s looking forward to fishing and indulging in his hobby of collecting cars. “I wanted to see the stand continue on for the people of the Vail Valley,” he said. “It was a lot of fun, and I kind of miss that, but this old body … there are just a lot of other things I’d like to do.”Lukinich, an arborist and plumber, said he and Jones, a flight attendant, purchased the fruit stand in June for “a change of pace.” They expected the pace to be a little slower than their usual hectic lives, but they were quite mistaken.

“It’s turning out to be a little quicker than we anticipated,” Lukinich said. “It’s not as easy as it sounds.”As the popularity of farmers markets grows and grocery stores continue to expand their selections, the fruit stand is feeling the financial pinch, but both old and new owners have faith in their clientele. “Eagle-Vail as a neighborhood, they covet the stand,” Jones said. “They protect it. They feel like its theirs. They know exactly when the corn, the tomatoes, the roasted chilies are coming in. They support the local farmers, the little people.”They said their love of the people and food compels them to continue.

“We believe in fresh produce and good nutritious food,” Jones said. “Being able to go to work and have someone thank you for being there makes it worthwhile.”Although the couple has faced a few bumps along the road to owning a business, they said they haven’t looked back and look forward to improving next year.”We’re going to try to run every day next year, and go into November,” Lukinich said. “We’re working on our timing, and we’re going to get all our orders in on time. We’re going to really work on it.”============Emerald Acres Farms Produce, the fruit stand on Eagle Road off state Highway 6, will host a pumpkin patch with a variety of fall produce and bales of hay for the Halloween season this week. The fruit stand will close at the end of October.

============Vail, Colorado

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