A year after Sprouts Farmers Market and Henry’s Farmers Market agreed to merge, Boulder, Colo.-based Sunflower Farmers Market is joining the party.

On March 9, Sunflower Farmers Market and Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market announced a definitive agreement to merge. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.

According to a Sprouts news release, the 35 existing Sunflower Farmers Market stores will change to Sprouts stores by the end of 2012. The combined company operates 139 stores and has 10,000 employees. Thirteen new stores are expected to open in 2012.Sunflower Farmers Market to merge with Sprouts

Sprouts traces its roots to Henry Boney, a San Diego entrepreneur who opened his first fruit stand near La Mesa, Calif. His sons opened stores in the late 1960s and rebranded them to Henry’s Marketplace in 1997. Boney’s son, Stan, and his grandson Shon, opened the first Sprouts Farmers Market in Chandler, Ariz., in 2002.

Sunflower Farmers market also was founded in 2002, by Linda Cook and Randy Clapp, co-founders of Boulder-based Wild Oats Market Inc. Sprouts, Sunflower and Henry’s Farmers Markets shared many features, including a low profile store layout, strong emphasis on produce in the center of the store and double-ad Wednesday marketing strategies.

“Given our continued growth, I can’t help but think about how my father would have reacted,” said Stan Boney, in a news release. “ He would certainly recognize his handprint in both Sprouts and Sunflower, and I think he’d be amazed at everything that we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time.”

Last February, Sprouts merged with Henry’s Farmers Market. The company is majority-owned by investment firm Apollo Global Management LLC.