In the midst of these unprecedented times, some things are still happening as they always do. This is true for Historic Splendid Valley farmers who are moving ahead to grow produce and flowers, and raise goats, chickens, and much more. Right now, these farmers are tending seedlings in greenhouses, planting cool season crops, pruning lavender, protecting young plants from the elements, tending to winter wheat, and caring for goat kids and chicks. Despite everything happening in the world, farmers are still growing our food and other agricultural products that we depend on. And they are doing it with a positive attitude and the optimism that every spring brings.
“Spring on the farm is normally the most optimistic time for a farmer. It is the time when we finally get into the fields and have a fresh start so to speak – a time when we plan to hopefully correct all of the mistakes we made last season, a time of hope for a better year than the previous one, kind of a fresh start,” explained Robert Sakata of Sakata Farms.
Of course, this is not to say that local producers aren’t facing a myriad of challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis. Facing the uncertainty of demand and market channels, and the effects of social distancing on farm visitation, some farms have already made adjustments. Berry Patch Farms is planting two new strawberry fields this year to help ensure the safety of employees and the public who comes in droves every summer to pick their certified-organic berries.
Minoru Farm, which specializes in Asian varieties of vegetables, is in its first year of production. Having originally planned to sell at farmers markets, their model has shifted to include some Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm shares.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for knowing where your food comes from has increased, along with the public’s realization of the importance of supporting small local businesses. I got the message that I needed to step up and offer what I could,” said Jade Sato of Minoru Farm.
Sonflower Ranch was planning to offer tours to preschoolers and first-graders this spring, but those have been canceled. In response, they are offering self-guided, no-contact tours right now for families looking for something to do close to home.
While there are still some opportunities to visit farms and farm stores, Red Daisy Farm is providing an opportunity to grow-your-own. In response to postponed weddings and other events that provide much of the demand for their flowers, Red Daisy is now offering cut flower garden kits. These kits offer a nice variety of 72 flower plugs that people can plant and grow at home.
There is also the important consideration for all of the farms’ employees and, by extension, their families. From increased food safety trainings on top of an already rigorous program, to acquiring protective equipment to keep workers safe, this is an ongoing consideration for farmers. And there are still the anticipated challenges of farming in Colorado in the spring. Recent snowstorms have delayed plantings, or had farmers scrambling and putting in 18-hour days to get the crop in the ground before snow falls.
Petrocco Farms, who raises a variety of vegetables for local and regional distribution in Historic Splendid Valley, shared that it is still early to speak much about this upcoming season, with so many unknowns to come. They are hopeful for better times ahead, and are working hard to ensure their products will be available in grocery stores and local farm markets later this year.
Though there are some plans and adjustments that can be made now, there is a lot that remains to be seen. Historic Splendid Valley farmers, like farmers across the country, are preparing to make additional changes and get creative.
Palizzi Farm is looking to make some changes this year by exploring a produce drive-up service and local delivery options. At the moment, they are planting in the fields and their greenhouses are full of seedlings. A little further south, Palombo Farms is opening early for the season – in June. They will be offering curated produce boxes available for curbside pickup.
“As folks are cooking at home and seeking ways to support our community, we’re hopeful they’ll look to family farms, such as ours, for their fresh produce,” said Joe Palombo of Palombo Farms Market.
The City of Brighton and Adams County have long recognized the importance of preserving the prime farmland of Historic Splendid Valley, supporting the local food system, and promoting agritourism. These initiatives support our local economy and the health and wellbeing of residents in and around Splendid Valley. There are a number of opportunities to support these farms now, and there will be many more once the harvest season begins.
Anna of Apple Lavender Farms, whose local lavender can be purchased at the Berry Patch Farms store, reminds us that “buying local helps small farms continue providing quality produce and products with minimal impact on the environment, transportation or distribution.”
Sakata Farms mentioned potential opportunities to support food pantries and food banks as the season goes on. “I hope we can work with local municipalities and counties to set up ways for local growers to market their products because they may not have the market channels they had in the past. I also know farmers have been a huge supporter of food banks and I hope we can continue that support this fall because it sounds like the need is growing each day.”
Claudia Ferrell of Berry Patch Farms noted the flavor and health benefits offered by eating local produce: “It’s delicious to eat fruits and veggies grown in the rich soil of Splendid Valley and our climate, warm days and cool nights, increases the natural sugars of everything – from berries and melons to onions. Plus, you get the health and flavor benefits of freshness and avoid the environmental impacts of long-distance shipping.”
“I hope everyone wants to get out, buy some of the best quality produce in the country, right here in Splendid Valley, and buy extra to can and put away for the possibility of the next wave of this, or just to simply be more prepared,” encouraged Aeron Calkins from Lulu’s Farm. Lulu’s Farm has a year-round market and participates in SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks programs.
Many local residents have already stepped up to ensure these local farms are supported. Taylor Drew of Forever West Farms, who still has CSA shares available for pickup at the Bromley-Hishinuma Farm, shared his experience thus far.
“My experience over these past months is that we live in an amazing community that wants to support each other. I have witnessed so much kindness in the local food community and it inspires me.”
Use the information provided below to find out how you can support Historic Splendid Valley farms:
Apple Lavender Farm: email@example.com; find their products at Berry Patch Farms
Berry Patch Farms: berrypatchfarms.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; (303) 659-5050; farm store current hours are Saturdays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., visit their website for updates
Forever West Farms: online store at app.barn2door.com/e/5NMOQ/all; foreverwestfarms.com (sign up for their newsletter); Facebook/Instagram: @Foreverwestfarms, @LoHiSteakbar, @LoHiLocal
Lulu’s Farm: lulusfarm.com; (303) 659-3300
Minoru Farm: email@example.com; find them every Sunday at the S. Pearl St. Farmers Market in Denver starting mid-May through October
Palizzi Farm: palizzifarm.com; (303) 659-1970
Palombo Farms Market: palombomarket.com, their new website launches in May and you will be able to order boxes there; firstname.lastname@example.org; (303) 287-0134
Petrocco Farms: look for them in farm stores and grocery stores this summer and fall
Red Daisy Farm: email@example.com; (303) 931-9785; to purchase a Cut Flower Garden, visit reddaisyfarm.com/cutflowergarden
Sakata Farms: look for them in grocery stores this summer and fall
Sonflower Ranch: sonflowerranch.com; call ahead to schedule a tour at (303) 641-0301
To follow up with farmers for this press release:
Apple Lavender Farm: Anna & Luigi; firstname.lastname@example.org; (720) 454-2473
Berry Patch Farms: Tim & Claudia Ferrell; email@example.com; (303) 659-5050
Forever West Farms: Taylor Drew; firstname.lastname@example.org
Lulu’s Farm: Aeron Calkins; email@example.com; (303) 659-3300
Minoru Farm: Jade Sato; firstname.lastname@example.org
Palizzi Farm: Debbie Palizzi; email@example.com
Palombo Farms Market: Joe Palombo; firstname.lastname@example.org; (303) 287-0134
Petrocco Farms: Dave Petrocco Sr., email@example.com
Red Daisy Farm: Meg McGuire, firstname.lastname@example.org; (303) 931-9785
Sakata Farms: Robert Sakata; email@example.com
Sonflower Ranch: Mike King; firstname.lastname@example.org; (303) 907-9138
And for additional information about efforts to preserve farmland and promote Historic Splendid Valley farms:
Anneli Berube, Ag Innovation Specialist, City of Brighton & Adams County; email@example.com; (303) 655-2252
Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, firstname.lastname@example.org, (303) 659-0223