Thanks to its moderate altitude, along with the hardy high-altitude plants, Boulder County farmers can and do grow a variety of crops including vegetables, fruits and grains such as tomatoes, corn, wheat, beans, winter squash, cucumbers and melons.
Approximately a fifth of Boulder County’s 507,000 acres is in farmland. Of the County’s total 107,043 farmed acreage, the County owns or controls approximately 25,000 acres (farmers of this 25,000 acres must transition to non-GMO crops by the 2020s). The balance, approximately 63,000 acres includes private farms.
A plethora of smaller farms, which many call farmettes, dot the Boulder County farm landscape. They grow grains, eggs, meat, produce and flowers for local consumer supported agriculture programs, local farmers markets and farm stands.
There’s no precise definition but as Boulder County agriculture extension agent Adrian Card shared with BLDRfly, a decent definition for farmette centers on farms who earn below $25,000 in annual sales. Because farmers net in the ballpark about 20 percent of their gross sales that leaves an upper range for farmers.
By that definition, of the 1,102 farms in Boulder County, 902 or 89 percent are farmettes, according to the 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture Boulder County
The Boulder farmette landscape
While Boulder County and nonprofit planners like MadAg focus on big moves like switching all of its county-controlled farm land to nonGMO by 2021, many of these peripheral, smaller farms focus on feeding their neighborhoods.
Farmettes can look like anything from Bob Poley’s Hoot ‘n’ Howl Farm, which used to lease all of the land which now belongs to Kilt Farm’s Jay Road location but now farms his 1-acre homestead property and provides produce to high-end Boulder restaurant The Boulder Cork, to Speedwell Farm & Gardens where Cody Jurbala and Melissa Ogilvie farm a quarter acre of the 1.5-acre Diaz Farm which just opened its brick-and-mortar restaurant in NoBo’s Tierra y Fuego.
Sometimes, these neighboring farms work together to the same land, like Mark DeRespinis of Esoterra Culinary Garden, who up until Covid-19 exclusively served restaurants like Corrida Boulder. Mark farms 1.5 acres on the same land as Marcus McCauley who runs his 40-acre business in McCauley Family Farms, known for its chicken CSA and its Picaflor hot sauce and pepper flake brand.
Toohey & Sons has garden veggies from lettuce, arugula and spicy greens to zucchini, basil, beets, escarole and rapini on its 38 acres since 2005 and sells to a roster of restaurants in Boulder, including Frasca Food and Wine, Pizzeria Locale, Arcana, Eridu at Rosetta Hall, Seeds Library Cafe, Jill’s Restaurant and the late Via Perla, The Med and Brasserie Ten Ten before Covid-19 closed them down.
Along with the restaurants it serves, the farm also sells at Boulder County farmer’s market and hosts farm dinners through Meadowlark Farm Dinners, a local artisan farm dinner organizer who partners with 10 other local farmettes like Aspen Moon Farm and Cure Organic Farm to host their long-table dinners on site.
Other farms have specific niches, like WeeBee Farms which has sold garden plants for farmers and plant lovers along with 30 types of garlic at the Boulder Farmer’s Market since 1996, all family-grown on 27 acres near 65th Street an Nelson Road.
36 percent of Boulder County Farmers Market farmer and rancher goods come from Boulder County Farms; BCFM also represents some farmers from neighboring communities like Weld County and distant Palisade.
[Refashioning Boulder County agriculture to support non-GMO crops]
We’ll be visiting many of these farms in the Boulder County agriculture scene over the next several weeks. Stay tuned for mini profiles.
The Valmont Farm — 6967 Valmont Road
Munson Farms — 7355 Valmont Road
DD’s Homestead — 6967 Valmont Road
Cure Organic Farm — 7416 Valmont Road
Hoot ‘n’ Own Farm — 6033 Jay Road
Shanidiin Organic Farm — 6712 Jay Road
Benevolence Orchard — 6712 Jay Road
Diaz Farm — 2818 Jay Road
Jay Hill Farm — 5367 Jay Road
Isenhart Farm — 2500 N. 75 Street
63rd St. Farm — 3796 63rd Street
Jacob Springs Farm — 7602 Arapahoe Road
Sunbeam Farm — 1005 Cherryvale Road
Indian Road Farm — 5973 Indian Road
Valmont Valley Farm – 5973 Indian Road
Andrus Farm — 6119 Andrus Road
Long’s Gardens — 3240 Broadway Street
Toohey & Sons Organic — Ute Highway near 75th Street
Shannon Red Barn Farm — 1341 N. 95th Street
The Fresh Herb Co. — 4114 Oxford Road
Aspen Moon Farm — 7927 Hygiene Road
Table Farm Farm — Mill Ditch, Longmont
Pachamama Farm & Wellness — 10771 N. 49th Street
Sol Y Sambra Farm — 11971 N. 75th Street
Esoterra Culinary Garden — 9421 N 63rd Street
WeeBee Farms — Near 65th Street and Nelson Road
Rocky Mountain Fresh — 5555 Ute Highway
Pastures of Plenty — 4039 Ogallala Road
Oxford Farms — 4601 Oxford Road
Oxford Gardens — 10145 Oxford Road
SkyPilot Farms — 10384 Airport Road
Browns’ Farm — 7950 N. 81st Street
Header Image: Sol Y Sambra, one of Boulder County’s flower farms. Image: Shereen Lisa Dudar.