Fresh Connections: 12 Ways to Enjoy Colorado Farm Living

Supported by enthusiastic residents who adore uber-fresh eats, and fertile grounds ideal for growing a plethora of produce and raising livestock, Colorado’s population of passionate producers are redefining what it means to flourish among nature’s finest.

Picking apples at Delicious Orchards in Hotchkiss
Fields of lavender and flowers at Sage Creations Organic Farm
Goat yoga hosted at Just Kidding Acres Goat Farm
Sunset at a tent camp on Chico Basin Ranch
An outdoor meal at Lyons Farmette
"FUN-Raising" at The Random Ranch in Sedalia
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Whether you want to pick, dine or stay, farms and ranches in the Centennial State are offering exquisite agricultural experiences like no other.

Pick

Rows of sweet-smelling lavender cradle vistas of the namesake multi-hued sandstone palisades that rise above the town of Palisade at Sage Creations Organic Farm. U-pick lavender is available mid-June through mid-July, and the family farm also offers summer classes on topics like growing and crafting with the versatile herb. Stop at the farm stand (May through September) for to-die-for organic cherries, peaches and heirloom tomatoes, and a variety of lavender-infused products.

There’s so much to do and taste at HotchkissDelicious Orchards that you won’t want to leave. Luckily, you don’t have to: Campsites with Rocky Mountain views are available on-site. Pick your own apples, peaches, pears, cherries and more from their orchard in the summer and fall (call ahead to find out what’s available), snag some of their very own Big B’s Hard Cider at the farm market — or better yet, visit during the Cider Fest in October. The selection of homemade pies and baked goodies at Delicious Orchards Café are also worth drooling over.

Pet

The Art of Cheese in Longmont offers an array of cheese-making classes for all skill levels, where you can craft your own feta, chevre, mozzarella and gouda. But the best part of the experience comes after the class when you get to walk outside to meet and pet all the friendly goats that supplied the milk for your queso.

The self-guided tour through The Living Farm in Paonia allows patrons to meet and pet turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, goats and sheep — and learn about their organic practices (early May through mid-October). Admire the farm’s integrated system of plants and animals, an essential part of their sustainability practices; and gain the know-how to create a perpetual greens harvest, aka an “eternal salad bar,” and boost the nutrient density in your own garden soil.

Play

Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga invites you to pair your downward-facing dog with some baby-goat bliss. How does it work? Students strike poses while the gentle creatures roam, nibble and cuddle around them. The classes are hosted by multiple Colorado farms.

Gathering fresh eggs from chickens is a back-to-basics joy that’s great for introducing little ones to the magic of farming. The happy hens at Cottonwood Creek Farms in Merino, tucked in southeast Colorado, roam freely on the family-owned property’s expansive pastures. Drop by to tour the grounds, greet the Berkshire pigs and chickens, and help collect eggs, which you can purchase directly from the farm (call for hours and availability).

Stay

At Chico Basin Ranch near Colorado Springs, friendly folks will introduce you to ranch living through activities like moving, sorting and branding cattle, fencing work and animal care. The hard (and fun) work is rewarded with hearty meals and chances to hike, fish, swim and spy on wildlife; accommodations are provided in a renovated, early-1900s structure. Consider visiting during one of their themed weeks, which include branding camps, horsemanship clinics, prairie campouts and cowboy schools.

The grandeur of southwest Colorado shines at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch in Cortez, an excellent base camp for surveying archaeological treasures like Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park. Choose from several rustically beautiful cabins and homes, including an ancient Pueblo-inspired structure; purchase fresh produce and meats grown on-site to prepare your own meals; and help with chores like feeding the resident sheep.

Dine

From July through September, chefs from acclaimed restaurants in Boulder and beyond whip up meals for farm suppers under the stars at Lyons Farmette. The intimate organic farm grows ingredients for the dinners, local restaurants and on-property weddings. The events include a tour of their fields and the chance to mingle with sheep, llamas and goats. The farm also offers great workshops on chicken keeping, beekeeping and other topics.

Live music, wine and fresh eats make Friday Nights at Fox Fire Farms in Ignacio a worthy warm-weather affair to add to your calendar. From June through September, taste wine from the farm’s own vineyard; feast on a menu of various meat-and-cheese plates and barbecue specialties; and BYO blanket to relax on the spacious lawn. Bonus: Absorb lovely views of the farm, vineyard and surrounding area on a horse-drawn carriage tour.

Celebrate

The personable Southdown Babydoll sheep, miniature Jersey steers, goats and gang of guardian canines at The Random Ranch in Sedalia relish meeting new people — and the locale’s year-round events are the perfect opportunity for a visit. The ranch is an educational nonprofit, and you'll have your pick of tours, photography lessons and Jelly Bean Spa Day & Horseshoe Art sessions — where you decorate your own horseshoe and then learn about caring for horses by pampering the lovely Miss Jelly Bean.

From mid September through October, corn bins, hay rides, duck races, pony rides and a petting zoo make the Fall Fest at Wishing Star Farm in Calhan entertaining for kiddos and grown-ups. Catch their Spring Fling — select weekends in April and May — for pallet mazes, horseshoes, a farm store and more pony rides.

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